Buzzwords

Buzzwords like “social justice,” “missional,” and “shalom” pepper conversations about what the church should be doing for the world today. These conversations take place in the blogosphere, in bible studies, on Facebook and Twitter, in coffee shops and many other places. I’ve witnessed these words be used to sound the call to the church to wake up and do something! As a result, people feel called to do something but what that something is remains a mystery. It might have something to do with environmental stewardship, fair trade coffee, ending slavery, or a wealth of other things that connote these terms.

What Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert do most effectively in their book, What is the Mission of the Church? is answer that “deceptively complex and potentially divisive” question (16) in a tactful and biblically faithful manner. They remind the reader that “[the] story is not about us working with God to make the world right again. It’s about God’s work to make us right so we can live with him again” (89). This simple truth had become obscured in my mind by “should” and “ought” statements that I feel the Enemy has used very effectively to distract me and other believers from our main priority—which is obeying the Great Commission and making disciples (63).

Before I began reading DeYoung and Gilbert’s book, I would have said the church’s mission, God’s mission, and the individual Christian’s mission was without distinction. It’s amazing how critical it is to understand the distinction so that I can be obedient in my task here in this life and help others to be obedient too.

Anna’s Story – A Short Film

Video

Anna grew up in an alcoholic home on the Navajo reservation. As a child, she never heard her father say “I love you.” She didn’t even know that was something a father could say. Trapped in a world of hopelessness, she watched as many in her own family and community took their own lives.

This is a true story.

It is a story of abuse, neglect, and despair. But it is also a story of healing, love, and hope.

See more: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/09/13/anna/

It’s Days Like These I’m Glad I have a Blog

In my last post I mentioned how God is like a masterful work of art that only gains more admirers as time passes. I’d like to go back to that analogy and quote C.S. Lewis who provides some insight about admiration and exaltation:

But the most obvious fact about praise–whether of God or anything–strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise…The world rings with praise–lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game…I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.

When I share about this wonderful, heart-filling, joy-causing day of mine, praising it completes the enjoyment, i.e. I enjoy it even more when I can tell people about it.

Today was a normal day not in that it wasn’t extraordinary, but in that I realized I live an extraordinarily blessed life.

It started with class this morning with Dr. Plummer learning about the ministry of Christ to the Gospels in our hands. Sitting there I marveled at how God has gifted certain individuals to be Christian-scholars and devote their lives to finding and preserving ancient documents that further testify to the truth of our belief. We don’t worship a God who shuns the academic, we worship a God who designs people to love the pursuit of knowledge. That was my first hit-the-pause-button wow moment and it wasn’t even 10 AM yet.

Second, I walked into chapel ready to hear Scott Patty share a message and he brought it. Even though I almost tweeted a quote by Scott Party (thanks auto-correct), I couldn’t stop nodding in affirmation about what he was saying on Psalm 42-43. I feel depression is an oft overlooked topic of discussion in Christian circles but Scott was very open in talking about his own struggle with seasons of depression. I couldn’t be more thankful for the way in which he closed his message–he reminded us of God’s promise to our weak souls, “I will be with you.” We can trust that however abandoned we feel, we have that awesome truth to turn to for comfort.

Third, I ate a spinach salad with black beans and fajita chicken in the cafeteria and got some reading done before heading to my Missiology class. Anthony Casey was teaching since Dr. Sills is away in Brazil (surprise!) this week…whomp whomp…Anyways, I still had two big take-aways from class which I would like to share:

  • Since holistic ministry engages community (see Jeremiah 29:4-7, 14), we should consider re-ordering the structure of our lives by asking (1) At which church can I serve? (2) Where can I work near my church? (3) Where can I live near my place of work and my church?
  • In our discussion about Israel’s role in mission, a young African American man named Jimmy raised his hand and said, “How can you expect a dead and unregenerate person to want to come and see?” Those words speak directly to those in the church who say (I’ve been guilty of saying this) that the church will be something profoundly attractive and people will be drawn to us. Um, no. That’s not just laziness, that refusal to go out and bring people to the banquet is disobedience.

Fourth, I went directly to Systematic Theology I after my Missiology class and got to soak up beautiful, glorious truth with Dr. Bruce Ware. Every class, he reminds us to hit that pause button and reflect on the privilege that it is to study at a seminary like Southern at a time like this! Today we talked about Revelation, the epistemological foundation of the Christian faith. Revelation is by God’s sovereign prerogative to give what he chooses to whom he chooses and we need it. We need it because of our finitude and God’s infinite nature–we cannot on our own comprehend God’s glorious otherness. Also, concerning General Revelation, through creation (God’s divine nature evident in created order) and conscience (Mens’ hearts are imprinted with God’s moral nature), it is not saving, but it does hold all accountable. If it seems like I’m just regurgitating my notes, it’s because I’m still in awe of everything I have written here! You can meditate on the implications of God’s sovereign prerogative for days (or eons) probably. He didn’t have to make known truth but he did! He did because he is good and wise and loving.

I finished my classes and walked over to the library with my friend Lance to look at an old book as an extra credit assignment for my New Testament class. Shameless, I know. After that, I changed into my swimsuit and headed over to the pool for the Aqua Alive water aerobics class. My Abide (women’s small group) leader Candice joined me and the Asian, pregnant and older ladies for a great work-out! I really felt the burn… After class, Candice and I had an excellent conversation about repentance, waging war on sin, contentment and a number of other topics. I’m keeping it vague because I’m not ready to disclose any specific details to strangers on the internet! We did sit in the hot tub for longer than the recommended time though…I got a cafe mocha from Founder’s to warm myself up and that’s my day! Like I said, blogging about my day consummates the joy I have in having experienced this day firsthand.

Diversity > Conformity

A diverse body of believers is an incredible, miraculous thing to observe. I’ve been on the SBTS campus for almost three weeks now and I’ve encountered people who in China worship in packed house churches, who were first invited to church by the roughest guy in an inner city Chicagoan neighborhood, from Haiti, from Korea, from Honduras, and from more places besides these than I could ever imagine.

We who come to Southern to study are just a small sampling of the nations. John Piper in the third edition of Let the Nations be Glad tells us to look at what God is doing throughout the whole world and reminds us of the joy we have in being able to participate in the making of God’s masterpiece. Indeed, “if a work of art continues to win more and more admirers not only across cultures but also across decades and centuries, then its greatness is irresistibly manifested…His true greatness will be manifest in the breadth of the diversity of those who perceive and cherish his beauty” (Piper 222). What an amazing thing of which to be reminded! We who are students at Southern are gathered to admire God’s true greatness which can be perceived in taking a step back, turning around, and seeing who exactly stands there trembling before God with joyful wonder (Piper 38).

The nations are far away, to be sure; but the nations are also here on this campus. It is through this framework that I will observe my classmates and remember that the God we worship has won a diverse variety of admirers.