Archive for missional
Putting up a video today that has gotten some play time lately. It was brought to my attention by a tweet from an Upstream Collective buddy and posted on the Missional Church Network. In case you have not seen it, I encourage you to make the time to work through it. Participating in the Page Lecture series at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Christoper Wright does a great job of making a case for a missional reading of Scripture.
A recent conversation with my pre-teen daughter about the latest happenings in her world at her new school where she is seeking to live as salt and light led to some healthy thinking and great conversation. (I really love talking with this kid and am thankful that I get to be her daddy.) Anyway, the conversation is an important part of what it means to live on mission.
In the gospels we see numerous times where the religious leaders came to trap Jesus with their sophistry. Following these encounters, the questioners would be silenced, red-faced, apoplectic. On the other hand, we see genuine questioners coming to Christ that were deeply impacted and changed or struggled with the answers he gave. Each encounter makes clear that he was the wise one. He seems to be thinking, speaking and seeing things on a higher plane. So, if we are sent as he was sent then….
The same goes for peace-making. Jesus didn’t make a let’s pretend to be nice ignoring the elephant in the room peace, but more often a reconciliation of relationships that were completely severed with no hope of making things right. For example, there was no way that Mary and Martha were going to have another minute with Lazarus on this earth until Jesus went and changed all that. If that’s a bit too extreme then how about the prostitute at the well that Christ restored to a healthy standing in her community. So, if Jesus was a peacemaker and we are sent as he was sent then….
We have such a privilege and I believe it is fair to even say a huge advantage in interacting with others. We are sent as the wise ones, the peace-makers. We go out from our homes into our community, the places where we connect, our workplace and our schools with our eyes wide open. There is a purpose behind who we are, a mission that propels us forward. We meet and relate to our neighbors to bless them. When they are kind to us, we in turn honor them. If they curse us, we in turn bless them. If they hate us it is OK because we have enough love for both of us. When they want to speak only of mundane or immoral things, we have the privilege of elevating our interactions to things that matter and are lasting.
Lately I have been seeing and hearing some amazing stories that are so impacting less because of what is in the story but more of what is not. These are stories of giving–it seems it just actually may be better to give than to receive. These stories are about emptying one’s self of what was of value, at least it was of value once upon a time. You know the time when the fairy tales seemed better than the real story ever could be. Back when heroes were dreamed of more than walked with.
You know the story of the house with the white picket fence that was where a family could grow up and close together. This safe place would be where kids learned to be a blessing and the parents would be blessed. Where the kids would learn to play football and soccer and the piano too. And where the kids of the neighborhood could go to be safe when away from their own white picket fence trimmed world. Ultimately it was a place for people that looked like, thought like, behaved like, worshipped like and even earned as well as spent like us. This utopia may have been called a community with shared values, but that was code for a whole lot more expectations than we could ever say in a politically correct environment. This is where we wanted to establish the roots of our lives as well as those that would come in our future generations.
Now I continue to come across those that are trading in this American dream for one of uncertainty. Often the life plan can be seen only months out or maybe a year or two where a person knows that for the here and now, this is how and where God is directing. With this move to a new place in life, safety may be a little less than what one felt before. Language, culture and worldview may be a world away from what once was shared. Square footage may be divided by a factor rather than subtracted by a digit. It’s different, but when it’s part of the calling to make disciples, it’s freeing. It’s the only way to live and move and adopt a nomadic faithfulness. This is essential for those that are listening for the voice that would speak in our ear saying “this is the way, walk in it.”
Another story that is up for revision as some are living it out today is the family name. There has been great concern over the centuries for the family name to be upheld. More than a few kingdoms have been rocked by the need for lineage that would carry on the patronymic. Also, more than a few dad’s hearts have been broken by children that did not uphold the integrity of the family name. But there are some that upon hearing a call to the nations have to go and Google their name to see what is publicly available on the inter-webs about their life. Seeing that they are clearly identified in a way that would not be acceptable to the government and / or people of the place where they are moving, they take legal action. They change their name so that they can live among those who are open to the truth and love of Christ, but are not able to accept some of the cultural trappings that we have used to self-identify.
These areas of abandon are just a glimpse of the One who emptied Himself. Ultimately, His tale is the one that is the creative genius of all the once upon a time fables, but His mission is also the beautiful calling for the heroes that are living it out today.
As several have asked about a recent event in our lives based on a tweet I posted on The Twitters, an update seemed in order. For readers that don’t know, during my recent travels our house was burglarized. No one was home and every one is safe though the pooch was a little shaken up. While the hoodlums didn’t make off with loads of valuables, they did disrupt our lives.
We are continuing to address the logistical issues which come from a forced entry break in. But on the bright side, we were able to have a meet up with a number of our neighbors to talk about what it would look like for us to act as neighbors rather than just as people who live in close proximity to each other. I do not believe that God has for us to live in strife with our neighbors. At the same time I do not believe that He desires us to have a state of apathy for those that live close to us. It is in our community–where one plants his family–that we are the incarnation of the gospel.
Our neighbors were skeptical about getting together the first time, but they decided for another get together much sooner than I would have proposed.
Off topic, I had a piece posted this week on the Upstream site on the Sent and Sending church. Well that was the published title. I originally sent it as “A Church Brouhaha.”
Creativity. Passion. Christ-centered. Prayer. Check it out…
ht: 24/7 prayer
This was the last talk that Michael Frost gave during our recent JetSet trip to Prague and Budapest. He gives several mission catalyzing principles. Christ focused, highly practical–good stuff. If you haven’t seen this piece yet, I encourage you to carve out 40 minutes and make it happen. Probably best to watch this with someone(s) with whom you are doing life.
“I hope you can make it.” The youngest son of one of our neighbors had just invited us–excluding kids–to his first play at a local community college. The content would be, he assured me, inappropriate for children. “Yeah!?!? We’ll definitely be there…maybe.”
For us this began a brief discussion of what to do. We arrived at the decision that for a Savior that spent time with sinners and tax collectors with the former category including prostitutes, that our going to the performance was probably the thing to do. Of course it didn’t hurt to know that it was at a community college; how bad could it be? I was reminded of a time when an acquaintance told me of his invitation to an avant garde theater overseas by the lead actress of the production. While she had some clothes on during the performance, the rest of the cast proved to be a lot more free-spirited. Surely that wouldn’t be the case here…at least I hoped not.
Upon arriving at the theater, we encountered bold yellow signage warning that the production was “M for mature” and that the content was not appropriate for children. While this is an interesting commentary on our society, we continued in our theater going. Cautiously.
Yes it was uncomfortable at a few points along the way. But, we made it through and didn’t even have to run to scrub our eyes and ears after it was over. Upon leaving the auditorium, our neighbor was shocked to see us as we chatted for a bit, congratulated him and hugged him on the way out.
Not going to offer a moral to this post. That’s for you to work through if you choose. I will share that the play had a strong point. The main character was pretty pathetic until he learned that a better story existed and he could play a key role. Moving from being the heroine in a worthless story to being the hero in a life-like drama was reason to believe in something better and to live differently. Changed.
With tail wagging wildly, our new Christmas puppy has found her place in our home (though not exactly inside it) and our hearts. She goes from a flutter of spastic activities before hitting the wall and crashing for a time only to get a full recharge. We have laughed a lot over the past days and tossed a few things that Super Pup bested.
Our biggest concern with getting a dog in the first week was the whimpering and whining at night and the resulting displeasure of the neighbors. Just separated from her mama, the new love of my children’s lives proved true to nature and whimpered intermittently through the first several nights. A couple days into it though, with no complaints from neighbors, all seemed well. But actually it was better than that….
On New Year’s Eve night, my father-in-law and I visited my neighbor who washes his Jesus to share some food and wish him well. Gus was broken prior to our arrival and often incoherent due to some amount of alcohol and large amounts of emotional pain over the last year and anger through recent events with others. Through our time together, he shared that he had been awakened by a whimpering puppy the previous morning at 4:00 AM. Then, for the first time, he began to read his Bible. We finished our time together praying a prayer of blessing over a man who was at first scared to be holding a bottle of Bud Light while we began to talk to God. By prayer’s end, he was deeply moved and thankful.
The story continues…now with Super Pup in the cast of characters.
While there are numerous ways to live this out, I would like to share one great way is through the Skybridge Community. Check it out.