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Archive for disorientation

Jan
11

a beat down

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It was a beat down. Michael O’Leary had 15 minutes to present ideas on innovation from Ryanair–the Southwest Airlines equivalent of Europe–to the Innovation Convention at the EU. Within the first 30 seconds, he was skewering the EU. For the next 15 minutes, he continued in the same way. To say that it was a blistering presentation would be an understatement.

So, while this is not a political forum, I thought it interesting to point out this video because it was interesting to me to watch the uncomfortable chuckles that came from the session moderator who was miked up and the audience as the camera pans out to capture the grimaces on a regular basis.

This is illustrative of a natural response to criticism. The presenter gave an in your face effort to force some level of disorientation for the audience, but the response of the moderator at the end of the video shows the resistance to really considering Mr. O’Leary’s point. It was an effort to defend the present based on actions taken some time prior. Mr. O’Leary quickly addresses the point and seems to make a mockery of the whole thing.

As it is easy to see the awkwardness that comes with a hollow self-defense, it is an opportunity for us to see the strange responses we are apt to give to criticism. The Pharisees did it when they were skewered by the rabbi claiming to be the Son of God. We do it in defense of church as is. What if we really were to evaluate criticism that comes our way to see if there was any truth to what the speaker was communicating?

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Dec
13

do re mi

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Last night my wife was helping a friend that has recently begun seeking to learn and live the ways of Christ. During their time together, my wife mentioned the Jewish people. In reply, our friend shared that she had heard the word Jew before, but had no idea what it meant. None.

This kind mother of four is, for several months now, seeking to teach her children to follow Christ. She is recently characterized by sharing the hope that she has because of Christ with others in her neighborhood. But she did not have a bit of knowledge about the Jewish people, the nation of Israel or any of their history either in Scripture or modern day.

Realizing this made me aware that I need to slow down and back up in my expectations of what others know. Seems like a good idea with her to now “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” Also, our realization last night made me thankful that we are called to make disciples that obey everything Christ commanded, not disciples that are simply chock full of  knowledge.

Categories : discipleship, missiology
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Jun
27

disturbing statistic

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Last week a friend of mine met with the president of one of the state SB conventions. According to him, the number of SB churches in the state that are dead or in decline was 85%. This number is troubling for a whole lot of reasons. While I am aware that there are significant changes in the U.S. church scene at present, no growth or realignment comes close to addressing an 85% decrease in the number of existing, functional churches in one denomination.

As this state is in the Bible belt, it doesn’t really matter where this interview happened. It seems that this statistic could very well be true for any of the Bible belt states–take your pick.

To turn it around and look at the positive side of the statistic, 15% of the churches are vibrant. A meager 15% are in a situation where they can be more concerned about loving the lost around them rather than being focused on self-preservation. This positive side for me is a bit depressing. Clearly, things as they have been are not working.

Categories : church, trends
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Oct
20

mac, pc and mission

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Mac or PC? I switched over in 2003 and have loved my Mac experience ever since. The first few years I used a Mac, many would ask me why I chose Apple over PC. After sharing my reasons and how pleased I had been with my user experience, there was usually a litany from the other side regarding how PC was superior. To that I would ask if or when they had used a Mac. The usual line was that they did not need to try Mac to know that PC was superior. And I share this because….

This post continues a discussion of a question Billy Mitchell is posing (addressed on this blog in the previous post): “Can a Christian ‘live out Acts 1:8 ‘being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth’ without a passport?’” Justin Woulard answers this question in the affirmative. Because of the flattened earth that is now the USA with a confluence of ethnicities, financial constraints and other factors that are difficult or impossible to change, he states that there are times where a passport is not needed.

To this I would share that “I agree, but….” In fact, Justin has excellent points of which churches need to be aware. For example, I agree that the nations are around us and we are to make disciples where we live. I agree that we can resource with finances and prayer those that do have passports and are able to go. BUT it is my experience that it is easier to find ways and reasons not to go rather than to find ways and resources to go. It is easier to be content with what I already know than to put myself in a situation where nothing will be familiar. It is easier to find excuses and more pressing things than to be about the nations.

I encourage pastors, planters, leaders, and disciples to find a way to be disoriented through going to another nation in obedience to the Great Commission. The outcomes will vary. Some will become consumed with it and have to reorient their lives for this purpose. Others will benefit from it as they have a new awareness and drive to engage the nations locally. Still others will be so glad that they are back in the U.S., resolve that they never want to leave again and commit to praying for and helping others go. All of these are good outcomes.

So use a Mac if you want to. But I implore you to find a way to go on mission internationally for some period of time. It will change you. It will change your church. For the church to think and act like a missionary, she must at least dabble in cross-cultural missions. Otherwise she will be content to know what she knows as it has to be superior to what she has never experienced. Huh?

Categories : missiology
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Oct
13

passport needed?

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Can a Christian “live out Acts 1:8 ‘being witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth’ without a passport?”

A friend of mine, Billy Mitchell, is now asking this question passionately and often. Why this question and why now? Having just returned from being in St. Petersburg, Russia for a week, he comes back to his normal, everyday context disoriented in the best of ways. Likely still challenged with jet-lag, he is envisioning, scheming, plotting (whatever you want to call it) ways to get back to the people in Russia. Also, he is looking to connect with the Russian community in St. Pete, FL. He is now known as the Russia guy because he talks about it so much.

He is leading his family in pursuing global agility as they seek to find ways to be able to make disciples of other nations. This includes pursuing a passport from Canada for his wife and now praying that his children marry people from other countries. Yes…he is praying for his children to marry people from other countries as he seeks to lead his family to have what Billy calls global agility—being able to move around freely in pursuit of being obedient to Acts 1:8.

Billy is where he is because he was where he was. Use of his passport to go to another people is now helping him to see things in a different way with a heightened passion. If individuals or the church are going to think and act like a missionary, then it is worth pursuing opportunities to be in a completely different culture where you begin to see things in a different way. The end result may be a new or renewed passion to reach people in another land and/or to reach those in your community. But immersing yourself in a cross-cultural situation will change you—I believe for the better.

One pastor, J.D. Greear, has made this a part of membership requirements at his church because he believes so strongly in the call we have to the nations. Why does he make this a requirement? Perhaps because he invested a couple years of his life in another part of the world sharing the hope of Christ.

Billy writes: “Can you live out Acts 1:8 without a passport? Sure, but why would you want to?” I agree. Get a passport and use it. It may make a difference in the lives of many people. It will definitely impact you.

Categories : missiology
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Apr
19

“Am I crazy?”

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“Am I crazy?” she asked with tears filling both eyes.

Following a breakout session this past week at the Sent Conference in Houston, Sandra shared with a friend and me that she had become discontent sitting inside her church when she saw so much lostness in her community. So many that would not come into the church. So many that were not able to find their own way to the Savior. Her disorientation was evident.

Seeking to find her purpose in taking Christ to the community, Sandra has prayed throughout her community, spoken with her pastor, and currently is meeting with a group of university students in her home. The conversation with this beautiful, gray-haired lady was the highlight of my conference experience. She is seeking to find ways that she can make her Savior known to those that need so desperately to know Him.

For her and others that can identify with her, I am thankful to share that “hope has two beautiful daughters” according to St. Augustine and Michael Frost.

Press on Sandra, I am cheering for you, praying for you, and ready to help in any way I can. To others like her, I encourage the same. May we join His purpose “to seek and to save what was lost.”

Categories : Bible, church, story
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Apr
05

Future Learning

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Last month I had the privilege of spending some time with Michael Frost and his lovely wife. One of the primary reasons for this time was to shoot some video for an upcoming project…more on that in the future, but it will be great! During the video shoot with all of the normal professional video gear, I plopped a little Flip Video cam up to capture some of the content and make it available sooner and to this audience. The upside is the videos will be made available in short clips over the upcoming weeks. The downside is that there were constraints on the editing that can be done which impacts the audio a bit. Also, it required some creative video editing that gives Frost a bit of an angelic appearance. Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. (smile)

In this first piece he identifies some of the problems faced and insights available for those that have been about disciple-making and church-planting in cultures that are a little further down the road of secularization and appearing more and more as a post-Christian context. At this point, let me make a brief plug for readers to consider the issue of disorientation that is facilitated by being involved in international and/or cross-cultural engagement.

Categories : video
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Dec
02

The Fight

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fight“So you got into a fight with several boys on the bus….What happened?” the principal asked. The student responded, “When they were making fun of me and my clothes, that was fine. But then they started making fun of my sister and I couldn’t help myself anymore.”

The outburst earned the young man a couple days of in-school suspension as well as the attention and compassion of the middle school principal. And based on previous history with the principal, our family would soon get involved.

For some time now my wife and I have wanted to change the focus of the Christmas season from getting a whole bunch of stuff that we don’t need to serving others that are truly in need. Instead of seeing our children turn glassy-eyed thinking about presents they may receive, we feel compelled to teach them to serve others. So a few weeks ago I began a conversation with my extended family about changing the family tradition. Though I can’t say there weren’t any bumps along the way, I have been so encouraged to see how we are, as a family, now focusing our energies on blessing others that are in need. Great need.

Just to paint the picture a little, the dad recently lost his job as a garbage collector. The mom spends most of her time in bed on strong medication with a chronic disease. The two kids who are still living in the home have learning disabilities and are picked on at school for any reason including clothing that is out of style. From preliminary conversations with the family, we learned that food was also a need.

This past week we were able to go with my parents and my immediate family to take a Thanksgiving meal and a bunch of groceries to the family along with some job applications where we have family history. While we were standing there talking, the kids were unloading the bags. Immediately, the boy washed an apple and started eating it while his sister began to peel an orange. Both commented about how good it was to have fruit. These were the very apples and oranges that our kids had picked out at the store just a couple hours prior.

After Thanksgiving, we met as an extended family to plan what we would do for this other family for Christmas, for job, and more. We really were seeking to answer the question how can we be the image of Christ to them. After that we went to different stores and shopped for various things for the family. With my wife and kids, we immediately started shopping for the young girl in the family. My children were delighted to pick gifts to give to this girl that they had already met. They wanted to pick clothes that would help her be warm…that she would really like…that would reduce some of the peer scrutiny for the future.

I think we are all going to learn more about the sacrifice of Jesus this Christmas than so many in the past. I am not certain today of all of the thoughts my daughters are having about building this relationship and being a blessing to others. They are enthusiastically working on a play that will tell the Christmas story as we share a meal together around Christmas. They are learning so much more through this hands-on approach than I could ever teach them in a countless number of lectures. This is obedience for us. It is pragmatic discipleship for them. It is a blessing for us all.

After a short time shopping we met back as an extended family at Chik-fil-A. While we were sharing ideas and showing what we had purchased, one of the employees came up and greeted my brother. We learned that their children went to school together. Upon hearing of the family’s need, he brought us an application and gift cards for the whole family to be the store’s guest for a chicken sandwich meal (woohoo for the #1 combo!). We were traveling back home when my parents called to share that the family was really appreciative. The dad was excited to be able to eat at Chik-fil-A for the first time in his life. My girls could not believe that there was a grown man in the U.S. that had never eaten at their favorite restaurant.

The discipleship continues….

Categories : discipleship
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Oct
14

A New, Old Form of Proclamation

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iStock_000000934342XSmallSure I enjoy a 3-point alliterative sermon almost as much as the next guy. What’s not to love in an extensive Greek word study message or the 16 ways to look at John 3:16 series? A month ago I posted an entry that was to be continued–“Seeking Context.” Here is some of that continuation.

Seemingly, there is universal belief in the power of story. This is evident in the use of stories for the purpose of amplification in virtually all forms and practices of preaching or teaching. However, telling the whole story is rarely done outside of the Jesus Film or other similar works. This is true even though some of the greatest preachers in history have utilized a contextual or comprehensive story message to great effect.

For example, “Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” What was the result? As they reflected back they shared, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Peter uses a similar style in Acts 2 with a reasonably good effect. Stephen also used a comprehensive story message in Acts 7. While his personal end did not turn out very positive by some standards, he did get to see the glory of God just before leaving his life here on earth. The persecution and resulting diaspora that came on the day of this story-telling did serve to greatly advance the name of Christ and his church.

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Oct
06

Rob Thomas Sings to the Church?

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1242075770.20243.concert2Last night I took my lovely wife to the Rob Thomas concert. We have always been intrigued by the significant amounts of truth in his lyrics. As we were called to a “celebration of music and life” by each of the three acts, there were times where the logic just did not follow. For example, early on, Carolina Liar’s singer, Chad Wolf, spoke of this celebration that we had gathered for and then dedicated the song to all the people that hated their jobs and could barely stand to get out of bed. For some reason, I questioned whether or not I was ready to celebrate this particular angst. But all in all, it was an enjoyable night and a very good show.

Each of the three acts had songs that spoke of the search for something that was real and true and worthwhile. Also, themes of love, redemption, and forgiveness were addressed. A few songs that may be worth checking out include Carolina Liar’s Beautiful World and Show Me What I’m Looking For as well as One Republic’s Someone to Save You and Come Home.

My favorite song of the night was Thomas’ opening number–Fire on the Mountain. This is a song written in a post-Christian, immoral world where justice is crying out to be heard. His lyrics can speak, I believe, to the church. What it says to the church will depend on the church itself. For some it may be a call to action. For others it will be a call to change the music ASAP. The lyrics are here for consideration, but I encourage you to give it a listen to get the intensity of the problem and the emotion that the “eyes wide open” church might encounter (Frost, Seeing God in the Ordinary).

Fire on the Mountain by Rob Thomas
Fire on the mountain
Through the fields
Save yourself
There’s evil in the garden
But you don’t see it
I can tell

How do you sleep while the city’s burning
Where do you go when you can’t go home
How do you drink when there’s blood in the water
Where do you turn when the world moves on
When the world moves on

Fire on the mountain
You can feel it
Against your skin
You’re standing by the river
Let the river take you in

I see smoke out on the horizon
Mama get your baby
Take her down to the water
I feel the wind like a promise broken
I see the future but it’s getting farther

If you take the time to give it a listen, consider talking with other believers you walk life with and envision a video that depicts the world about which Thomas sings. Then have a re-listen and redo your story boards with the visual being the church on mission that is living like Christ.

Categories : church
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