I find that the one finger method is helpful. It's definitely better than the full hand method. (Though I've never personally tried that one.) Although it isn't listed, I find that the nose to the diaper method is quite faithful in determining if the foul odor is coming from your child's diaper or from some other source.
Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds of people … testify how much he loved them. He never wrote a book, but he loved the Book. He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday’s grace was never enough. He was not a far-sighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity. He was not a gifted administrator, but there is no text that says “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you are good administrators.” His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them. He much preferred to avoid controversy than to stir things up, but his own commitments to historic confessionalism were unyielding, and in ethics he was a man of principle. His own ecclesiastical circles were rather small and narrow, but his reading was correspondingly large and expansive. He was not very good at putting people down, except on his prayer lists.
When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on the television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation. In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing and would never need it again.
But on the other side, all the trumpets sounded. Dad won entrance to the only throne-room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man—he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor—but because he was a forgiven man. And he heard the voice of him whom he longed to hear saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.”
As the Apostle Paul reminds us, none of us have perfect understanding. We do see in a mirror dimly. So, let us be semper reformanda--"always reforming"--as we meditate on the Word.
Father, by Your Spirit, encourage us to meditate on your precepts, move us so that we can fix our eyes on your ways, enable us to delight in your statues, sustain our minds so that we never forget your word, and teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Certainly, most Christians would find the previous statement to be quite strange. And indeed, this would be a strange statement if 14th century humanism was equivilant to present-day secular humanism (which is at odds with the Christian faith or any worldview that involves belief in the divine.) Yet, at the time of the Renaissance, humanism was a return to the arts and letters of the past. Humanists sought cultural renewel by returning to the thoughts and forms of antiquity. As Alister McGrath explains in his book Christianity's Dangerous Idea,
Its basic method can be summed up in the Latin slogan ad fontes, which can be paraphrased as "back to the sources!" A stream is at its purest at its source (30).For humanists, primary texts were of vital importance. McGrath continues:
Most humanists of the era--such as the great Erasmus of Rotterdam--were Christians who were concerned for the renewal and reform of the church. So why not apply the same method of regeneration to Christianity? Why not return ad fontes, to the original sources of faith, and allow them to reinvigorate a burned-out and run-down church? Could the vitality and simplicity of the apostolic age be recaptured?....But how was this to be done? What was the religious analogue of the culture of the classical world? What was the fountainhead of Christianity? Christian humanists had little doubt: the Bible, especially the New Testament. This was the ultimate source of faith (31).Church history is messy. And the more we delve into study of the history of the church, the more we will see the ways in God has worked through innumberable people, events, and movements.
So what's my point? Over the last few years, I've realized that contextualization is a process that must take place everywhere, not just on foreign mission fields. This is being missional...living as a missionary in your own backyard. If we truly desire to bring the gospel to all people, then we must place ourselves in "someone else's shoes." We should seek to understand the various mindsets, struggles, and assumptions that other people bring with them. When missionaries travel to other places, they practice contexualization--not so that they can adapt or change the gospel--but so that they can overcome the obstacles (social, linguistic, etc) that unnecessarily hinder gospel proclaimation.
Recently, someone gave me the book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne. In one of the chapter's Payne explains that there are hidden rules (i.e. unspoken cues and habits) that exist among the classes of poverty, middle class, and wealth. Unfortunatly, people within a particular class assume that everyone knows the hidden rules--the rules are presupposed. Simply put, we believe that everyone thinks like we do. Yet, as Payne demonstrates, we cannot assume that everyone carries the same presuppositions as we do. For example, in regard to food, the various classes focus on different key questions: 1) For those in poverty, the key question is "Did you have enough" (quanity important). 2) For those in the middle class, the key question is "Did you like it?" (Quality important). 3) For those in wealth the key question is "Was it presented well" (presentation important) (p.42-43). Of course, the lines will sometimes be blurred (and exceptions do exists). But the point is for us to step out of our circumstances, in order to see the world through someone else's eyes.
So, I encourage each of you to step into someone else's shoes this week. Learn about the various "cultures" that are found in your city or town. Step out into your backyard and live like a missionary.
So, good night (or good morning if you read this at a normal operating hour!) and may each of you find joy on the paths you did not plan to walk. May you find comfort in the providence of God, knowing that His ways are perfect. Remember, it is for His glory and our good! And now for my own good, I'm taking the path straight to my bed.