Christianity is disbelieved in one culture for totally opposite reasons it is disbelieved in another. So for example, in the West (as we will explore below) it is widely assumed that Christianity can't be true because of the cultural belief there can't be just one "true" religion. But in the Middle East, people have absolutely no problem with the idea that there is just one true religion. That doesn't seem implausible at all. Rather there it is widely assumed that Christianity can't be true because of the cultural belief that American culture, based on Christianity, is unjust and corrupt. (Skeptics out to realize, then, that the objections they have to the Christian faith are culturally relative!) So each culture has its own set of culturally-based doubt-generators which people call 'objections' or 'problems' with Christianity. (Note: The type in bold was underlined in the original.)The entire article is available here.
*Sunday, 11th: Preached my last (?) sermon at Roper Mt. Baptist.
*Monday, 12th: We found out that our daughter has to have open heart surgery in Charleston, so we had to postpone our move to seminary. Instead of moving to Wake Forest, NC, we'll be moving to Honea Path, SC.
*Wednesday, 14th: We sold our home. Taught my last mid-week bible study at Roper Mt. Baptist.
*Friday, 16th: Started packing up our belongings.
*Sunday, 18th: Taught my last Sunday School class at Roper Mt. Baptist. Went to my last youth Christmas party at Roper. Had a farewell party after the evening service.
*Monday, 19th: Took our dog, Tozer, to the pound because we couldn't take him with us to Honea Path. (Hopefully, someone will adopt him. He really is an awesome dog.) Went with Amy to her last event/dinner at Miller Oaks (a retirement community where Amy assisted the residents).
Please continue to pray for our family as we seek to trust and follow the Lord. Although these changes are difficult/sad, we have peace in knowing that we can trust God to guide us daily.
Yesterday, Amy and I took Alora to have her heart murmur checked out. Although most heart murmurs are not a cause for concern, we discovered that Alora's murmur is a sign of something more serious. According to the Pediatric Cardiologist, Alora has a congenital heart disease known as an Atrial Septal Defect. According to the Cove Point Foundation,
Larger ASDs, which are more likely to remain open, cause an excessive flow of blood into the right atrium, right ventricle and pulmonary artery (see animation). This enlarges the right atrium and right ventricle (dilatation) and causes high pressures in the pulmonary artery that will eventually distort its shape and may rarely damage the blood vessels in the lungs.The enlargement of the right atrium can result in abnormal heart rhythms. These effects are not reversed by closing the ASD after the damage has been done. Heart failure is likely when a person with an untreated ASD reaches young adulthood.THE PLANS
In order to correct the problem, Alora is going to have to have open heart surgery sometime in January. As many of you are aware, Amy and I have just sold our home so that we could move to Southeastern Seminary at the end of this month. Yet, we are having to adjust our plans so that Alora can have this important operation. Instead of moving to North Carolina, we will be moving in with my grandfather in Honea Path, SC. (He has graciously open his home to us, so that we do not have to worry about finding a place to rent.) This move will allow us to be close to my parents (they live across the street from my grandfather) and close to Charleston (where the surgery will take place.) After the surgery takes place, I assume that Amy and I will live with my grandfather until after the summer. (This will also be around the time when our second child will be born, Lord willing!) In regard to seminary, hopefully I will be able to take classes from an extention center in Anderson, SC. I do not plan on looking for a job until the surgery is over because I know that the next month will be a bit crazy for our family.
Amy and I praise God that Alora's pediatrician noticed a problem and helped us find out about this serious condition. We also feel so blessed because the doctor that we will be working with is a fellow believer! Our Lord is so gracious! We know that the Lord is going to use this time to grow and mature our faith in Him.
Here are a few ways in which you can pray for our family: Please pray that we will not worry and stress over this situation. Pray that our move to Honea Path will go well. Pray for the healing of Alora's heart (whether this comes through surgery or another way that pleases our Lord). Pray for our financial situation. (Thankfully Alora has full medical coverage that will not cost us anything!) Pray that I will be able to find a job after I move to Honea Path.
Thank you so much for your prayers and concerns. I will post updates and new information when it is available. If you have a website/blog, please feel free to link to this post so that others can be informed.
"...if Jesus is Lord and cares for the poor and the oppressed, then we ought to have nothing to do with economic systems that do nothing but increase the misery of the poor, all done while pretending that they care. If we put a socialist government in charge of the Sahara, it would not be long before we had a shortage of sand." -Doug Wilson
*Why do most churches only celebrate the Lord's Supper four times a year, especially considering 1 Corinthians 11:26: "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." This seems like something we should do more frequently. Why not celebrate the Lord's Supper every week when when we gather?
*Should we really call our gatherings "worship services," especially when considering these points: First, worship is not something that should be restricted to a few hours in the week. We should be worshiping when we gather together each and everyday by offering our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Are we presenting a false dichotomy by referring to our gatherings as "worship services." Second, the primary purpose of our gatherings seems to be for the edification of one another. Consider Hebrews 10:24, 25: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (NIV).
*The Body is not one member, but many. If this is true (and it is), why don't we allow more oportunities and flexability within our gatherings so that the whole body could use their spiritual gifts, as the Lord leads?
Of course, these just a few of my thoughts. If you have any insights or thoughts that you would like to add, I would appreciate your comments.
In regard to family, I think that this move is going to be especially difficult for my parents because I am an only child, and this will be the first time in 23 years that I will be living more than an hour away from them. Yet, on the bright side, we will only be three hours away from Amy's family, as opposed to eight hours!
Amy and I will also be moving away from some of our friends. (Sanchez, are you ready to come visit us in NC? Travis and Abigail, we are truly going to miss hanging out with both of you on Sunday afternoons.) Yet, we will also be moving closer to other friends: Cecil (when he comes back to the States), Erynne, John, and Dawn.
I know that Amy and I will also deeply miss our church family. Over the last two and a half years we have grown so close to the youth and other members of Roper Mt. Baptist. It is sad to think that I will only have about three more Wednesdays to teach and fellowship with the youth before we move to Wake Forest.
Although Amy and I have so many things we want to say to each of the people who mean so much to us, those words will have to wait a few more weeks. But until then, please let these words linger in your ears:
We love you.
From The Radical Reformission by Mark Driscoll...
Reformission is ultimately about being like Jesus, through his empowering grace. One of the underlying keys to reformission is knowing that neither the freedom of Christ nor our freedom in Christ is intended to permit us to dance as close to sin as possible without crossing the line. But both are intended to permit us to dance as close to sinners as possible by crossing the lines that unnecessarily seperate the people God has found from those he is still seeking...The mission is to be close to Jesus. This transforms our hearts to love what he loves, hate what he hates, and to pursue relationships with lost people in hopes of connecting with them, and subsequently, connecting them with him. This actually protects us from sin, because the way to avoid sin is not to avoid sinners but to stick close to Jesus.
From Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson...
The end of all Christian belief and obedience, witness and teaching, marriage and family, leisure and work life, preaching and pastoral work is the living of everything we know about God: life, life, and more life. If we don't know where we are going, any road will get us there. But if we have a destination--in this case a life lived to the glory of God--there is a well-marked way, the Jesus revealed Way. Spiritual theology is the attention that we give to the details of living life on this way. It is a protest against theology depersonalized into information about God; it is protest against theology functionalized into a program of stategic planning for God.
What I’d rather confess about the Bible is that the Scripture is true — and then I want the confession to go further to the point where the Scripture is trustable truth. And then we need to go yet further: do I live it out? Living trustable truth.
That is, God speaks and we can trust that God is speaking to us in Scripture. But, believing that is designed so we will trust it and live it out. I believe the Bible is trustable truth. We can trust what is said. If you tell me that you think Scripture is true, well and good — what I want to know is if you trust it by living it out. This is what Scripture is all about: it is God’s story that we enter into so that God’s story becomes our story. This only happens if we trust it by embodying it — in how we live. Living trustable truth. (Italics added). In my opinion, this is where the "rubber meets the road" regarding debates about scripture/inerrancy/authority. Does it really matter if a person holds a high view of Scripture if he/she fails to live according to the truth of Scripture. (And I do believe most people who have a high view of Scripture are trying to live out the trustable truth.) I pray that we would each affirm that Scripture gives us the true word of God by living according to the true word of God.
In a recent editorial for Relevent Magazine, Whiting Out Our Sins: Banned Books, Kristen McCarty writes the following:
There are children who grow up in happy homes, untouched by abuse or tragedy. They have both a mother and father who love them. They have enough to eat every night and have friends at school. Perhaps they've never been exposed to racism or poverty. I was one of those kids, and I'm so thankful to have had the childhood I did. But many of my friends and schoolmates did not. Lyndon B. Johnson once made the claim, “Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” I know that in my own childhood and young adulthood, reading books...shaped and changed me. They gave me pictures of what other lives drastically different from my own looked like. They helped me to form empathy for the pain of others and tools for relating to those I had nothing in common with. It's sad and a little bit scary to think that if some people had their way, those books would never have been available to me to read in my school or neighborhood library.
After reading this editorial, I began to have a lot of questions in regard to censorship: When is censorship helpful? When is censorship harmful? Can we ever be truly consistent in regard to censorship? Although I have began to formulate answers to these questions, I still have a long way to go in my thoughts. Yet, one thing has become clear to me: Censorship comes from all sides. People want to censor the things that they disagree with, while calling for "no censorship" in regard to things they affirm.
Just to add to the discussion you may want to check out the Banned Books Week, which is sponsored by American Library Association. The Banned Books Week "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."
So, what are your thoughts on censorship? Do you agree with the stance of the ALA regarding censorship? How should Christians respond to censorship issues involving tough issues such as pornography, etc? Let's join in on this conversation together. Post your thoughts in the comment section.
If I live what I believe, then I don't live very many noble things. My lifeSadly, I think that most of us are self-centered. We care more about safety/shelter/etc. than we care about Christ. Also, "American Christianity" has led too many people to take more pride in being American than being Christian. One of my favorite chapters from D.A. Carson's book, The Cross and Christian Ministry, is called "The Cross and the World Christian." In the chapter Carson writes:
testifies that the first thing I believe is that I am the most important person
in the world. My life testifies to this because I care more about my food and
shelter and happiness than about anybody else.
[Christians] can be caught up in flag-waving nationalism that puts the interests of my nation or my class or my race or my tribe or my heritage above the demands of the kingdom of God. Instead of feeling that their most important citizenship is in heaven, and that they are just passing through down here on their way "home" to the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22-23), they become embroiled with petty priorities that constitute an implicit denial of the lordship of Christ. What we need, then, are world Christians--not simply American Christians or British Christians or Kenyan Christians, but world Christians"I pray that a day will come when we will no longer hail our loudest allegiance to America; rather, let us lay down our American "badges," and proclaim that our allegiance is to Christ and His kingdom!
True patriotism is love of country, not love of government. Neo-patriotism is mindless worship of the state.Some of you may also be interested in this article on civil religion.
True patriots refuse to honor government above God. Neo-patriots gladly deify government.
True patriots understand loyalty as adherence to the ideals upon which the country was founded. Neo-patriots believe in blind submission to the bureaucrats currently running it.
True patriots believe that eternal vigilance is necessary to keep politicians under check. Neo-patriots are willing to entrust their lives to politicians thinking this means loyalty to the ideals spelled out in the Constitution.
True patriots believe in the old Constitution heart and soul and abhor all but the most limited and narrowly defined forms of taxation because they believe their money belongs to them and that the federal government only needs enough funding to perform its few, narrowly defined, constitutional duties. Neo-patriots don’t mind sacrificing most of their earnings to unelected bureaucrats, nor do they mind relying on Washington for a host of taxpayer-funded benefits.
Neo-patriots think that if you criticize U.S. foreign policy or the country’s obsession with security you are “unpatriotic.” True patriots believe that the exercise of critical judgment is
absolutely necessary to any civilization that is to stand or forge ahead, and that it is both their right and duty to criticize their government. They concur with President Theodore Roosevelt: "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country."
So, what gender do you think our baby will be? Why don't you make a prediction and give us a suggestion for a name. (Granted, we probably want use your name suggestion, but if we do...you'll win a bubblegum cigar.)
Amy's prediction: Boy, Isaiah Mitchell
Eric's prediction: Girl, Faith
Alora Grace's prediction: (mumbles and laughs)
Tozer's prediction: (stares blankly)
Each Sunday as I enter the church building, I am greeted by two flags that call for my allegiance. On the left side the American flag calls for me to say: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." On the right side the Christian flag calls for me to say: "I pledge allegiance to the Christian Flag and to the Savior for whose Kingdom it stands. One Savior, crucified, risen, and coming again with life and liberty to all who believe." Granted, I never outwardly/verbally pledge to these flags during the service; nevertheless, they call for my allegiance: Hail Caesar! Hail Christ! As I have reflected over these two "allegiances," a few questions have come to mind: Is it possible to pledge allegiance to both of these flags and remain faithful to both? Should the American flag even be present during our services? (I wonder if Chinese/Iranian/Egyptian/Japanese/Canadian/etc. worshippers have their national flags proudly displayed as they worship?) By now, some of you may be thinking, "He hates America," or "He is ungrateful," but this is not the case. I am thankful for the freedoms that I am granted here in America. Yet, does this mean I cannot be critical of America (or the Church in America)? Each of us must be ready and willing to evaluate our actions/beliefs. We must not allow anything/anyone to have priority (i.e. more allegiance) than Christ and His Kingdom. So, let me mention one of my concerns.
I am afraid that too many Christians (living in America) believe that serving America and serving Christ are one in the same. Although we are called to obey the government (Romans 13:1-7), this does not mean that we should give unswerving devotion to America. In a recent post, The Anabaptist and State Religion, Dave Black writes the following:
The tendency of American evangelicalism is to exalt the nation-state over Christ. And the tragic result is that Leviathan, intended to tame human nature, has itself become a predator. This is not to say that disciples of Jesus may not participate in government or in government-sanctioned lethal violence. I have never argued that governments lack legitimate authority to police internally or defend externally. Yet a primary Anabaptist concern is the disavowal of Constantinianism and the recovery of a biblical critique of the state. I confess that I find it extremely distressing that so many Christians give the state their blind, unqualified allegiance. That is nothing less than idolatry. Anabaptist history reminds us that the maintenance of religious liberty is a duty of the state. It also reminds us that Christianity can never be advanced by means of an alliance with the state. This means that the church, as a transcendent institution, should reject any alignment with political power and should seek to ensure that the state remains properly secular. (Emphasis added)
*Be sure to look out for an upcoming post titled "World Christians," in which I will continue my thoughts/concerns about America and Christianity*
I own a dog. I buy him food and treats. But there is no way that I am going to spend $87 to $699 for a pair of Neuticles for my dog! (Oh, did I mention that you can also buy Neuticles for cats, horses, bulls, and people...okay, you can't buy them for people--yet.) Apparently, some people have too much money.
These are a few of Alora's most recent pictures. I'll be uploading and posting more family pictures in the next few days.
I amazed at how fast Alora is growing up! She is about 8 1/2 months old now. She's been crawing for about 3 weeks, and over the last week she has been standing on her own--well, with the support of her crib, shelves, or whatever else she can grab onto. Amy and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful daughter. For those of you who have not been able to meet Alora yet (Cecil), I can't wait until you get to meet her.
1. What is the Emerging Church? Praxis
2. What is the Emerging Church? Protest
3. What is the Emerging Church? Postmodernity
4. What is the Emerging Church? Pro-Aplenty
"AIDS cures sodomy"
"Go Bush Go, Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammo"
"Real Dads Git- Er Done For God"
"Wal-Mart is not the only saving place"
"You give God the credit, now give God the cash"
Hurricane victims who wanted water had some difficulty finding it at a relief station in Clewiston Friday. The volunteer group running a supply center doesn't like the company that donated the water, so they decided not to give it to those in line for help.
Twenty-two pallets of the canned water, distributed free by beer company Anheuser-Busch, bears the company's label – and members of the Southern Baptist Convention refused to hand it out to those in need.
Resident lined up for miles to receive food and water at the distribution point. But the water was left on the sidelines by the Alabama-based group.
"The pastor didn't want to hand out the Budweiser cans to people and that's his prerogative and I back him 100-percent," said SBC volunteer John Cook.
The SBC felt it was inappropriate to give the donation out, and they weren't happy when NBC2 wanted to know why.
"Why do you want to make that the issue? That's not the issue. The issue is that we're here trying to help people," Cook said.
No one disagrees with that, but the Red Cross says Anheuser-Busch is also trying to help.
The water has been available all along, but the SBC volunteers set it aside and few people knew it was available.
Keith Hinson responded on Steve McCoy's blog with the following thoughts:
Volunteers working with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Unit honored the request of the host pastor to set aside canned water with an Anheuser-Busch logo. At no time was anyone deprived of water. In fact, there was a huge surplus of bottled and canned water available at the Clewiston relief site. There was never any disruption in the supply of water being given out to members of the public who continued to receive food, water and other types of assistance from Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers. It is an absolute falsehood to suggest -- as many irresponsible bloggers have -- that the Baptist volunteers withheld the basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane. Contrary to misinterpretations of news reports, no one was denied access to water.One may disagree with the strong stand that many Southern Baptists take against the consumption of alcohol. One may even regard such opposition to alcohol as offensive.But it's impossible to say truthfully that this conviction caused any inconvenience or shortage for victims of Hurricane Wilma. The facts are exactly the opposite.The fact is that virtually all of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serve selflessly -- taking time away from employment and family to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Churches such as First Baptist Church, Clewiston, graciously serve as host sites -- providing a place where food, water and other necessities of life may be obtained by anyone in need -- without regard to religion or any other demographic consideration.
Although Mr. Hinson states that the Baptist did not withhold the "basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane," a question still remains: would they have withheld the "banned water" if it was the only water available? I am currious to know how you would have handled this situation? Would you have participated in the ban or would you have passed out the water? I believe the volunteers actions relate directly to the SBC's strong "teetotal" stance on alcohol. While I agree that it may be wise to abstain from consumming alcohol in some situations, I do not think that we have any biblical rational for 1. totally banning the consumation of alcohol (Communion anyone?) or 2. refusing to pass out water from a beer company. According to an update on the NBC2 site, at least two of the SBC workers chose to pass out the water with Red Cross workers.
I had never heard of The Afters until I saw a review in student ministry magazine. Although I bought the CD a couple of weeks ago, I haven't had a lot of time to listen to it because I let one of the youth borrow it, and I just got the CD back tonight.
1. We use apologetics to display the clever answers that we have come up with to prove people wrong.
2. We use apologetics like bullets to shoot people down.
3. We use apologetics like we are lawyers on a television episode of Law and Order.
However, I agree that apologetics in a post-Christian world is useful when:
1. We use apologetics when people actually ask us for them.
2. We use apologetics and don't see saying "I don't know" as a weakness, but as a strength. If you would like to read Dan's blog entry "Thank you Josh McDowell (sort of)" , it is available here.
I've almost finished reading Radical Reformission, and I have found the book to be very helpful. I love the way in which Mark Driscoll is concerned with with bodly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and engaging our post-Christian society in culturally relevant ways. I just started reading Walter C. Kaiser's "Reformed" reponse in Perspectives on Spirit Baptism.
If, however, the word is used to be hurtful, then by all means, we should intercede. But this is true if it is a swear word or a non-swear word. Kids can use the word ‘special’ with far more venom than any established swear word, so we obviously cannot limit ourselves to George Carlin’s list of seven words you can’t say on television. Rather, it is the intended meaning and effect of words that we must teach about. As Jesus says, it is what comes out of a person’s mouth that makes him or her unclean. This doesn’t refer to a given set of phonemes, but to the spirit behind the words.
So if a teenager says that the teachings of the Pharisees were bulls---, then are they being any less colorful than Jesus when he ranted on at them for several paragraphs? Or, in a more likely scenario, if a teenager accidentally drops the F-bomb in the van on the way to a mission trip, or in the youth room, or even in the sanctuary, is it really worth our attention? We should concern ourselves with things more important than vocabulary. We should embody the truth that it’s not the word choice that is important but rather the spirit behind the words. And we should never forget that teenagers can intuitively smell what our concern over swear words really is: prudish discomfort. If they see us using faith as a means to protect our delicate sensibilities, they begin to see faith as little more than a means to pursue our own comfort. This is the wrong message to send.
Before I respond to this article, I would like for some of you to comment on your thoughts. Here are a few questions to help get your brains churning: Did you agree or disagree with any part of the article? What scripture passages helped lead you to your conclusions? Who determines which words are deemed inappropriate? Are "slang" words different from "curse" words? What type of speech honors Christ? We must be prepared to answer these type of questions. The full article is available here.
Recently, my 12-year old sister-in-law Tiffany had to write a summary/review of a non-fiction book and then give a class presentation. So, what non-fiction book did she choose to review and present to her class? The gospel of John! Although Tiffany could have chosen to talk about any book, she chose to talk about the most important non-fiction book that is available to man--she chose to proclaim God-breathed scripture to her classmates! I am thankful that she took such a bold step, especially considering the religious hostility that is so prevelant in our public schools. This is just another wonderful example of how believers can (and should!) use every opportunity to share their faith in creative ways!
So, what do Jesus and potato chips have to do with one another? Well to Uncle Ray, potato chips give him an opportunity to share about his faith in Christ. I first came in contact with Uncle Ray's Potato Chips about a year ago while shopping in a local convience store. I was looking for a bag of cheap potato chips, so when I saw a $0.99 bag of Uncle Ray's, I quickly grabbed a bag. As soon as I purchased my chips and drink, I tore into the bag and began to eat the chips. They were wonderful! Yet, my greatest joy did not come from the price or taste of the chips; rather, it came from a story on the back of the bag. Every bag of Uncle Ray's Potato Chips contains a chapter from "The Life and Times of Uncle Ray." In these chapters, Ray takes the opportunity to reflect on his past and express his faith. (Most of these chapters contain many relevant scripture passages.) Ray is not ashamed of Christ. His website proudly displays the company's purpose statement: "We are in business to make a product that satisfies the consumer and to give a testiment of faith to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." I truly admire people who are willing to glorify God in whatever they do--whether it is selling potato chips, teaching, cutting grass, preaching, working at a factory, or whatever. I believe Ray is doing exactly what the Scriptures command: "So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). I pray that each of us realize that we must use every opportunity we have to bring praise to our Lord and Savior. Ministry is not reserved only for those who serve as pastors, missionaries, or evangelists; Every believer must see themselves as a minister (priest) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you doing your part?
The full article is available here.
"The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed them. You set the boundary that they may not pass...May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works! -Psalm 104:8,31 (ESV).
When we first meet the family, the mother and her oldest son Akira are carrying suitcases into a new apartment. When they arrive inside, they open the suitcases and two siblings emerge. (Later, Akira picks up his other sister from the airport.) The mother then informs the children that no one can know that they (i.e. the other siblings) are living in the apartment; therefore, none of the children (except for Akira) are allowed to go outside of the apartment. The movie takes a dramatic change when the mother leaves the children and never returns. The remainder of the movie centers on Akira and his three siblings as they try to stay together even in the face of loneliness, poverty, and death.
"Eric," my mom said with a deep sound of somberness in her voice, "I just got a call from your Aunt Sherry."
Then, there was a long pause–– the kind that makes your heart sink into the pit of your stomach, where you know that whatever follows isn’t going to be good. "Sherry said your Grandma has just taken a turn for the worse."
"Do you and Jonathan want to go see her once more before–-"
"No...I think that I’ll just stay here."
"How about you Jonathan?"
"I’ll stay here too."
"Okay. We’ll call you if anything changes."
After my parents left, Jonathan began playing Super Mario again. I stared at Jonathan, and I saw in him the same numbness that I felt deep inside of me. My heart ached. I felt like an immovable stone of sorrow had been laid upon me--and I was strangling–-grasping to breathe a hint of hope. But I felt lonely and cold.
Time seemed to creep for the next hour, until I heard the phone ring. As I lurked toward the phone, each ring pierced my heart like a cold knife because I already knew the words that were about to be spoken:
"I’m sorry...your Grandma just died."
I hung up the phone and I gave Jonathan a hug, but we didn’t speak. I wanted to mourn but death had emptied my emotions and taken my tears and locked everything deep inside. I knew that Grandma was a faithful follower of Christ, so I was joyful that she was now able to see God face to face and sing praises to Him. But sadness can accompany joy. Although I rejoiced in Grandma’s release from her earthly toil, I couldn’t escape the sadness of knowing that one of my best friends was gone from my life. I would never experience another Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any other holiday with her. She wouldn’t be able to see me graduate from high school, college, or seminary. Her seat at my wedding would be empty.
My Grandma was dead. And I missed her deeply.
The British missionary Lesslie Newbigin went to India around 1950. There he was involved with a church living 'in mission' in a very non-Christian culture. When he returned to England some 30 years later, he discovered that now the Western church too existed in a non-Christian society, but it had not adapted to its new situation. Though public institutions and popular culture of Europe and North America no longer 'Christianized' people, the church still ran its ministries assuming that a stream of 'Christianized', traditional/moral people would simply show up in services. Some churches certainly did 'evangelism' as one ministry among many. But the church in the West had not become completely 'missional'--adapting and reformulating absolutely everything it did in worship, discipleship, community, and service--so as to be engaged with the non-Christian society around it. It had not developed a 'missiology of western culture' the way it had done so for other non-believing cultures... Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But, as Wolff notes, this is a 'shrinking market.' And eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of "Christendom" will have to learn how to become 'missional'. If it does not do that it will decline or die. We don't simply need evangelistic churches, but rather 'missional' churches.
The full article is available here.