Wednesday, September 23, 2009

business time

I am always intrigued at the way ideas in pop culture spread.

Here is the original joke.

You now can advertise with a shirt

Friday, September 18, 2009


I started this post a while back, and with the recent news of retirements there is much more to speculate about...

When I first heard news concerning the proposed merger of NAMB and IMB, I was completely against it.  They are two very different institutions.  I did not realize just how different they were till I called NAMB today.  I am trying to start some international church planting in my city {lets just say it is a top 5 metro area}.  Someone challenged what I was doing with "it sounds like you are competing with NAMB."  I called them today and asked if there were any NAMB personnel in my area doing international church planting.  The response was: "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh" {about 8 seconds worth}
"weeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllllllllllllllllllll" {another 5 seconds}
{slowly} "thats not exactly how we operate"

It went down hill from there.  IMO, if you have personnel in a sizable city, you need to know it.  I have been trying to get everyone I know to call in and ask about their area.  Turned out, we only had two NAMB personnel and only one of them was actually paid by NAMB and neither were doing church planting.  What a lot of people do not know, is that half the of the purported 5000+ missionaries they have are volunteer.  These volunteers are primarily retired folks working to strengthen churches.  I am grateful for their service, but by definition, that is not missions.

I am now in favor of merging the two where IMB strategy takes precedence.  Essentially, NAMB needs to go through New Directions {Short story: this shifted IMB folks out of "church work" to front line work}.  They wait on the initiative of churches, associations, and state conventions before they plant any churches.  I understand the reasoning, but the down side is that we have unreached people groups within the major urban centers.

So here is the speculation: since both NAMB and, in a year, IMB both president-less, is this the precursor to a merger?

Concerning restructuring the SBC, which is all the GCR is really about{Call it restructuring the SBC, and everyone would throw a fit.  Put "great commission" in there you cant vote against the great commission}, SBCers must know that merging NAMB and IMB will not fix the money problems or inherent spiritual problems.  Here is my plan;
1. Get rid of state conventions.
2. Merge IMB and NAMB where unreached people groups is the priority.
3. Move the local associations into the position of "strategy coordinators".  They would work closely with the new conglomerate mission board.
4. Get rid of ERLC.  Nobody listens; nobody cares.  We should look for spiritual and cultural transformation and get out of politics.

We need to be less about dumb resolutions [Version debates, Reformed debates, Homeschool debates, etc] and more about the mission.

like a sore thumb: the history of revelation

This has nothing to do with end times.  Rather, it concerns the history of God revealing himself to man and the missiological implications which we can draw today.  

There are several key passages {Heb 1:1-2, Rom 1:18-30, Jn 1:1, 14; 17:18, Matt 21:33-41} relating to the history of revelation.  What is the process, historically and chronologically wherein God revealed himself to man.  Jesus alludes to this process in the parable of the tenants in Matt 21.  A land lord lets out his property.  He sends various representatives, whom the tenants kill.  Finally he sends his Son, thinking that they will not kill him-they do. 

Adam and Eve walked with God and they certainly taught their children about this after the fall.  In the days of Noah, there was a brief point during which the entire world {Noah and his family} knew God.  Think about being Abram, a probable moon worshiper.  For our purposes here we are going to use Abram as an “everyman.”  What is true for Abram and what followed him is also true, in whole or in part, for every man today.  The revelation of God has gone through several phases: Nature, Law, Prophets, Jesus, Body of Christ. 

If you lived between Babel and Abram’s day you would probably be looking to nature.  Scripture is clear, that God reveals himself through nature:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Ps 19:1

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  Rom 1:19-20

moses What does man do with God's revelation?  He spurns it.  Romans goes on to say that man traded worshiping the creator with worshiping the creation.  This is true historically.  In the days of Noah, his family knew the one true God.  How did they trade the worship of the living God for Idolatry?  In spite of God declaring himself to them through nature, they misunderstood and twisted revelation.

God rectified this through choosing a people and calling them out through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Primarily he revealed himself through the law.  As if the tenants misunderstood their landlord (Matt 21), he sent them another person to explain his terms.  They killed him as well.

What did the Jews do with the law?  It didn't take long for them to break it.  In fact, they were busy making and worshiping an idol while God was revealing the law to Moses! 

The story which continues through the rest of the Old Testament, is one in which they are constantly breaking God's law.  Judges describes their continued cycle of breaking the law, God's judgment, oppression, repentance, and restoration.  Not having learned their lesson, they repeat this cycle over and over again. 

This leads to the next phase of revelation: the prophets.  Hebrews 1:1 reads that in many times and in many ways God spoke to man by the prophets.  The landlord from Matthew continued to send emissaries to reason with the tenants.  So God did with man.  He sent prophets who transmitted His messages to His people.  They called the people back to God and rebuked them from the law.  They demonstrated the ways in which they had forsaken God and broken his law.  One would think that man would eventually wake up and heed what God was saying to them.  Yet they persisted.  They punished, imprisoned, and even killed the prophets.  Rather than believing and turning to God in repentance, they continued in their ways.  Just like the man in Romans 1, they continued to reject what they knew was true till they were turned over to their own darkness.  Finally, God caused his people to be taken into captivity, the temple to be destroyed, and the land to be inhabited by another.  The land represented his blessing and providence and the temple represented his presence.  He had removed his blessing and presence from them.

But, in love, he did not leave them to their own devices.  He further revealed himself through his son.  The landlord sent his son to the tenants thinking that they would surely respect his son.  Hebrews 1:2 says that in these last days he has revealed himself though his Son who is the heir of all things.  Through these phases of revelation, the message has been clarified at each point.  In this phase God sent his revelation in the form of a person.  When God chose to reveal himself to man, he put a face on it.  He spoke our language.  He understood our culture.  John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the word.  The Greek word is logos.  This word has a broader usage in the Greek world than the way John used it (and John is bridging the gap between the common Greek understanding of logos and his theological understanding of logos).  Plato used this concept and called it "forms."  These forms were eternal and transcend the created order.  These forms consist of ideas such as justice, love, beauty, and truth.  Philosophers always assumed that the logos was eternal.  John said nothing new.  His next phrase was a little more controversial, "and the logos was with God."  Many philosophers had joined the idea of an eternal logos and an eternal divinity.  Augustine actually agreed with Plato (though he comes after the days of Jn 1:1...), to an extent, in that he also affirmed that justice, truth, and beauty were all eternal.  Augustine, however, believed that they were eternal and unchanging because they were in the mind of God and God is eternal and unchanging.  John's final statement was revolutionary, "and the logos was God."  This was something that the philosophers had never thought before.  Why are truth and love eternal and unchanging?  Because God is love and truth and he is eternal and unchanging.  But logos is still very much a philosophical principle at this point.  We are at the point in the history of revelation that God is ready to roll out the next clarification and he is sending the logos himself.  But God is spirit, and we, since we misunderstood nature, the law, and even the prophets who explained the law, it was necessary for God to reveal himself in a way that could not be misunderstood [aka not in some kind of ball of ethereal philosophical logosness.]. 

"And the word became flesh and dwelt among us." 

This is the principle of incarnation.  God revealed himself in a form which was 100% human.  Our senses had become dulled (we were turned over to a reprobate mind-Romans 1) and so he came in a way which we could understand.  He spoke the local language.  You could have heard him talk and known where he was from.  He taught in local forms.  He wore local clothes; you could have looked at what he was wearing and known where he was from.  He attended the local parties, participated in their cultural festivals.  He was in every way human.  More than that, he was in every way Jewish.  All of this should be instructive to us for our stance towards culture.  There were many areas of culture which Jesus assumed.  Many of these areas do not fit our local taboos and thus we gloss over them.  For instance, the church, primarily in the South, is highly political.  They seem to overlook that Jesus stepped into an extremely corrupt political environment and said precious little concerning it.  To my KJV only brethren, in Jesus' day, there were several texts available...  he did not pick which text was best, and sometimes he just paraphrased or told stories.  Jesus was comfortable with many aspects of culture in ways which would make us uncomfortable (at the same time, he prophetically rebuked certain aspects of culture). 

Back to the story... In the parable of the landlord of the vineyard, he decides that the way to convince the tenants of his intentions is to send his son.  What do they do?  What did the Jews do?  They disbelieved; they killed him.  There is one more phase of revelation: us.  When we look at revelation historically we should expect a similar reception. Jesus says this to his followers.  He tells them that the should rejoice in the face of suffering and persecution because their fathers before them were treated in kind (Matt 5:11-12).

The next step of the story is simply you.  How did God reveal himself ultimately to man?  He put a human (Jewish) face on it.  How does God want to reach the dying world?  Airdrop Bibles and tracts?  Nope.  He sends you.  John 17:18 says that as he has been sent by his father, that he sends his followers.  He repeats this again in 20:21 "as the father sent me, even so I am sending you."  Paul affirms this message.  He says that God is reconciling all things to himself through Christ {2 Cor 5:19}.  Furthermore, we are ambassadors and God is now making his appeal through us {5:20}.  In the same way in which God did not send the logos in the form of a spirit or philosophical concept to us but put it in flesh, so also today he does not send his message through some kind of impersonal syllogism, drive by evangelism, and spiritual "scratch and sniffs" {aka tracts.}.  He wants us to be incarnational {and for the purpose of this article, not extractional}.  We know this because Paul admonishes us to follow Christ in this regard {Phil 2:5-8}.  A lot of people get messed up over "God emptied" himself.  This is because they do not understand the incarnation.  This is not emptying in the sense of loosing part of himself.  Rather it is a pouring into.  He simply poured himself into a human form and modeled the incarnation.  So to, we are to pour ourselves out-not that we are not human-and into the form of a servant following their master all the way to the cross.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Since this is a blog about going...

One of the common problems travelers face is theft.  A lot of this boils down to street smarts: awareness, state of mind, common sense.  Here are a couple of articles to help you think about protecting yourself from both old fashioned theft and digital theft (Remember the good old days when they just took your stuff...).

10 Ways to protect your stuff

10 ways to keep your data safe

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the world's happiest countries

There is a recent study which details the world's happiest countries.

 What do you think about the study?  Agree?  Disagree?

Personally, I find it a little too subjective.  It tends to view happiness through western lenses [socialist, European lenses at that].  I know the situation in Ireland, his 11th most happiest, and I know that in many respects the envy the freedom and cost of living USA which ranks at 23.  National health care is "free" and isn't really an indication of happiness.  Many of his standards can be interpreted in reverse.  For instance, he places a high value on lots of government programs.  The pain from the high taxes is balanced by the joy of equality and "free" health care.  Is this the case in Russia?  Equality of poverty and suffering is not equal with national happiness.  He also places value on education {as do I} but some of the happiest people I know are the most ignorant {its bliss they say}.  I find that the more I know about the world directly relates to my growing discontent.  It all depends on what makes you happy.  For instance, in one country government involvement is highly valued at the level that it would ruin other countries.  The freedom which I personally value would completely destabilize other countries throwing them into chaos {Check out the J curve book.}.

Is happiness based on circumstances?  Money? Governmental security?  Education?  Some of the happiest people I have ever met have none of that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


"When way leads to way, I fear I shall never return."  I have heard my father say that at most watershed moments in my life: when I left for school, when I got married, when I looked at going overseas.  Decisions are like being at the Louvre.  It is not your standard museum.   There are halls connecting rooms and in the new room there are more halls.  I feel this way about life.  It is as if I when I make a choice it puts me in a new room with several doors.  When I take one, it puts me in another room with several doors.  When way leads to way, I fear I shall never return.

There has been a fork in the road which has frustrated us for a long time.  Not so much because we cannot decide--we are completely comfortable with either road--but because we are never allowed to decide.  For several years now we have been looking at going overseas with a particular organization.  We have made it far with them and had many set backs.  There have been several points along the road wherein our journey was nearly aborted.  I am a resourceful person, sometimes overly resourceful.  I can think of many ways to continue follow God on the path to which I have been called and gifted.  I have always had other plans and opportunities but never really explored/followed them since things appeared to be so close to fruition with the company.  Several times they would set us back by a conference or departure [typically due to incompetency on their part, though this is always spiritualized as "God's timing"].  At these points I would always look at this fork in the road.  But, "what is another 6 months?" I would tell my self.  And so the fork continues to back up like a mirage in the desert.  This goes on for almost two years. 

We finally get to a conference, pick a job and are approved.  Then they back us up one more "training" camp.  They had overbooked and delayed us and three other families.  We get there to the next training and everything is going fine until we have a surprise pregnancy.  We were so close to departure.  They had the tickets and everything!  My wife hadn't had her shots yet {though they knew this ahead of time...  apparently this was more of "God's timing" coming into play}.  So, they refuse to send us till after the baby is born and they have their shots {about a year}.  There that cross roads mirage escapes us again.  We {the leadership and I} had agreed on a plan and time table for getting plugged back in.  You probably won't believe this, but they emailed me this week to let me know that this has changed... 

I can hold out to go with the company {my practical side tells me it is only just a few more months--even though all of these "few more months" and "God's timing" delays have amounted to two years.  sheesh, I could have just done deputation...}.  Or I can push forward with my own plan {a new system for reaching people globally through our own international cities.  It would really make a new paradigm in partnering and cooperating with local churches; one the company probably should have shifted to years ago}.  My new plan starts where I am, spreads geographically all across the country and then spring boards overseas in a few years.  I already have two associations, an independent board, and two churches in talks about this idea.

So, for those of you who know me, please be in prayer.  I like either side of the crossroad.  But it is time to choose.  For the record, I have nothing against God's actual timing.  I do have a problem with blaming systemic incompetence on God.  Lest we forget what God's actual timing is: "today is the day of salvation" and "the fields are white for harvest."

Friday, September 4, 2009

heard on twitter

I think this is from Grady Bauer

Drink wine and you will sleep well
Sleep and you will not sin
Avoid sin and you will be saved
Ergo, drink wine and be saved

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the church: relationship, philosophy, system, art, business

The church started in the middle east where it was about relationship
The church went to the Greeks where it became a philosophy
The church went to the Romans where it became a system
The church went to Europe where it became and art form
The church went to American where it became a business

I heard that the other night.  Love it.
There are strengths and weaknesses in all of the motifs for church.  It is interesting to see how those strengths and weakness have played out over history.