Taking the Word to the World

Archive for September, 2012

Know Who, What, and Why You Believe!

Kevin J. Conner in The Foundations of Christian Doctrine says believers need to know:

  • “WHO they believe.
  • WHAT they believe, and
  • WHY they believe it.”

He further explains that all religions are founded on doctrines and that the “teachings received, believed, obeyed, and continually practiced determine:

  • Character—what we are.
  • Behavior—what we do.
  • Destiny—where we go.

Strong character is determined by strong beliefs, and clearly defined doctrine makes for clear cut convictions.”

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photo credit: Fr. Stephen, MSC via photo pin cc

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Four Purposes of All Scripture

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

  1. Doctrine – What is right?
  2. Reproof  – What is not right?
  3. Correction – How to get right?
  4. Instruction – How to stay right?

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A Word on Tolerance

“Tolerance” is one of the prevailing attitudes in the world today. Everyone wants to do his or her own thing. There is political tolerance; tolerance of sexual orientation; and tolerance of different ways of thinking. There is also religious tolerance that says, “It doesn’t matter which religion you follow. We are all worshipping the same God.” The cry seems to be, “Accept me as I am!” In witnessing it is good to accept people as they are, but we cannot leave them there to perish. We should be always mindful that we are trying to pull others up to our level of spiritual understanding, rather than being pulled down to their lack of understanding.

Throughout the Book of Acts, the apostles encountered people with various levels of spiritual understanding and development. What did they do? Did they say, “It doesn’t matter. We all serve the same God. You believe what you believe, and I’ll just believe what I believe”?

They identified the person’s spiritual development and “began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35). We find people where there are but refuse to leave them there. Cornelius. Disciples of Ephesus. Lydia. Apollos.

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The Message is for You, Dummy!

A pastor was troubled by one of the Deacons in his church. This man was lazy and refused to live correctly. The pastor, hoping that the Word of God would bring about a change in the deacon, preached a sermon designed with him in mind. As the deacon left the church, he commented to the pastor, “Pastor, you really told them today!

One Sunday only a few members showed up at church. As usual, the deacon was present. The pastor thought, “I’ve really got him today!” and proceeded to preach a message with the deacon in mind. As the deacon left, he said, “Oh, pastor, you really told them today!” The pastor couldn’t believe it.

Finally it happened. It rained so hard that no one showed up for church, except the deacon. The pastor was so excited. Today the deacon would know that the message was for him and he would hopefully respond accordingly. The pastor began preaching with great enthusiasm. He preached against all of the shortcomings of the deacon. As the deacon left the church that day, he said to the pastor, “Oh, pastor! If they had been here, you would have really told them today.” Many times people allow the preaching to go over their heads and hit their neighbor instead. Our response is, “This is for someone else. It is not for me!”

Here’s a revelation: the message is for you, Dummy!

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Are You Almost or Altogether Persuaded?

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” Acts 26:27-29.

  • To almost be clean is to be dirty.
  • To almost believe is to doubt.
  • To almost tell the truth is to lie.
  • To almost win is to lose.
  • To almost be right is to be wrong.
  • To almost be straight is to be crooked.
  • To almost be saved is to be lost.

My C-Wish List

C-Wish List? Hope it caught your attention and dispatched you into the land of Wonder. I’m not talking about my birthday wish list. I’ve been too busy to even jot down my Christmas wish list. My thoughts have been captivated with the C-Wish List; the list of characteristics I look for in a team member.

What is it that I expect from a team member? Each characteristic, as you will notice, begins with the letter “c” so I have penned it my C-Wish List. I have not placed them in order of importance.

  1. Character: indispensable in any team effort. Much has been written on the subject. Sufficient to say, members of the Global Missions team need to be men and women of integrity and can be counted upon always to do what is right in God’s sight.
  2. Compatible: studies have shown that the ability to get along with others is even more desired than skills. Chemistry and a kindred spirit are essential to a good working relationship. We won’t agree on everything and that’s healthy. Conflict happens but compatibility helps rescue the day.
  3. Creative: Anyone can be critical. I wish for team members that are creative and constructive. Finding faults and problems are not signs of spiritual gifting. But, someone that can identify a problem and chart the solution is a proverbial breath of fresh air for any leader.
  4. Consistent: I’m not looking for a fly-by-night or a seven-day-wonder. Can the team person produce over the long haul? Does he/she have a track record of being consistent in achieving good things for the kingdom?
  5. Confidentiality: In leadership we see people at their best and at their worst. People trust us to give proper advice, counsel, an understanding compassionate ear, and to keep things confidential. I need team members that will watch my back so as to speak, and when I say, “This is confidential” I know that is exactly where it will stay.
  6. Credible: Solid relationships are built on trust. Team members should be trustworthy and reliable. In delegating tasks and assignments I need those that will do it, and do it to the best of their ability. They can be counted on to do what counts, when it counts, and how it counts.
  7. Cross-cultural communicator: In global missions the ability to communicate cross-culturally, correctly and clearly is a definite advantage.
  8. Compassionate: I’ve always said that I wouldn’t want to work with someone that isn’t compassionate. That isn’t the same as being a pushover, by the way. Like it is often quoted, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?” Even tough decisions can be issued in a compassionate manner. I could add “caring” but it’s basically the same thing.
  9. Completion: A good team member exists not to compete but to complete. Everyone has weaknesses and strengths. I want team members that cover areas that I may be weak. We don’t need everyone possessing the same skill-set.
  10. Capacity: Does the team member have a teachable attitude and a willingness to learn and expand? We live in an ever-changing, ever-developing environment and must be willing to change and to learn new methods and skills.
  11. Conscientious: The team member should have a built in quest for excellence. I’m not real big on mistakes. Yes, they do happen, but should be kept to a minimum. And when a mistake does happen, one should admit it, correct it, and move on.
  12. Courtesy: All team members should be respectful, diplomatic, and treat people as they would want to be treated. Sometimes, we are like two porcupines out in the cold: we need each other and we needle each other. Yet, team members should be courteous.
  13. Call: Like I said, these are not in the order of importance. If they were, this should be moved closer to the top. Team members need to know assuredly that they are in the will of God and that they are called to the team for such a time as this. It is a safe anchor in times of confusion and chaos.
  14. Credentials: Team members should have credentials, characteristics, and experience equal to the requirements of the job description they hold.
  15. Compromise: We can’t have our own way all the time. Team members need to be willing to compromise for the common good of others or be conciliatory to the united decisions and desires of the team. At the same time, one should never compromise convictions or move away from apostolic doctrine. Of course, that should never happen in Global Missions anyway.

Stopping there is probably best. I don’t want to tire you in wading through a longer wish list. Here’s your homework.

  1. Go through the wish list and verify characteristics you want for any of your team members?
  2. Go back through doing a personal inventory. Score yourself. Are you a good team member?
  3. Share the list with those that work on your team in your area of the world. People have the tendency to rise to your level of expectation.

My heart’s desire is that each of us would strive to implement the fifteen characteristics above as we endeavor to be team members together with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

School is in Session: “Culture Shock” 101

A Guest Post by Patrick and Shelly O’Malley

We all know that Summer School is usually for one of two things: catching up, because you were sleeping in class too much during the regular school year, or for getting ahead—because you’re one of those nerdy kids who loves school. For this uncultured American, I guess the first reason for Summer School applies more than the second: because from the moment I landed on foreign soil, I discovered I was way behind! Apparently, the Summer School I’m attending this summer only has one class: Culture Shock 101!

Culture Shock  = (Confusion · Anxiety · Frustration)3

What is “Culture Shock?” Culture Shock is the phenomena of being overwhelmed by the feelings of confusion, anxiety, and frustration when one is exposed to a culture significantly different from their own—all raised to the third power (above-center, for you Summer School fanatics who miraculously fail basic algebra twice during the year). Before I experienced culture shock for myself, I figured it was just a fancy myth that was an excuse to explain away international-flight-crankiness. But now I can say, of a truth, that culture shock is absolutely real!

What’s it like to experience “culture shock?” To experience the mind-blowing phenomena of culture shock is one of the strangest and most uncomfortable experiences I’ve ever taken part in. The best way I can try to describe it is like this:

Imagine that when you went to sleep one night, and everything was completely normal (at least how you’d always known it to be). But when you awoke the next morning, your brain was scrambled like a greasy pile of cafeteria eggs.

Neither Hear, See, or Speak Evil

Your tongue, your ears, and your eyes, no longer function the way they did the night before. You are able to speak, but the sounds that come out of your mouth are just gibberish so no one around you can understand what you’re trying to communicate. You know what you’re trying to say, but people just look at you like you’re crazy! You are able to hear sounds coming from people, that you know are communication, but they’re unlike any sounds you’ve ever heard before; and you don’t understand what any of them mean. You’re able to see clearly, but you are unable to read.

It’s like everyone got together, rearranged the alphabet, and redefined the meaning of each letter while you were asleep.

A Game of Hide-and-Seek

After realizing you weren’t able to speak, hear, or see properly, you try to go about your daily life. You need to get some regular products and appliances for your home, but you realize that all the stores you would have gone to have moved locations during the night—oh, and I almost forgot to mention: all of their respective names were also changed while you were asleep. And the icing on the cake: all the products that are stocked in each store have been changed—both in brand names and in price. So not only do you not know where to go or what to buy, remember that you can’t ask anyone a simple question and you certainly can’t figure it out for yourself because you forgot how to read overnight.

Ok, for you engineers and overcomers out there, I know what you’re thinking right now: “I could just jump in the car and tour the city until I found the right store.”

Dude, Where’s My Car?

I almost don’t have the heart to tell you the biggest insult to add to the injury of your predicament (but I got over it, so I expect, in time, you will too): while you were asleep last night, someone stole your car!

The only feasible solution is to use public transportation, but since you can’t read, you don’t know which type of transportation to take, where you can pick it up, or what stores its route will travel close to.

So…assuming you were somehow able to overcome all the aforementioned obstacles and make it to the correct store to buy a simple set of pots and pans, ceramic dishes, or a table and chair set remember that, since someone stole your car last night, in order to get everything home you have to carry it on your back using only crowded public transportation.

Where Was Sears Again?

Oh, and just one more thing I forgot to mention…You know all those household items that you just bought? I know you did a great job grinning-and-bearing just to get all those things home. You knew some of those items had the telltale little “tool icon” that indicates, in every language, “some assembly may be required.” Yep, you guessed it: I didn’t want to have to tell you because you’ve been through a lot already, but, last night… someone stole all your tools.

The Greater Revelation Always Comes Through Suffering

One of the way God operates in our lives, and it seems to be His preferred method, is to bring us to greater revelation through adversity and suffering. Now I know we’ve been having some fun in this article at my expense—the good news is: Jesus is still on the throne, it’s not as bad as it may seem, and culture shock diminishes over time. But God has allowed me to gain a perspective that I didn’t have before, and I’d like to share it with you all.

What I finally understand is why Missionaries often talk about what a blessing it is to have their own vehicle. What I’ve discovered is: there is a difference between the speed at which America works and the speed at which Europe works. Having a personal vehicle, in many instances, greatly increases personal efficiency which allows for focus on the expansion of God’s kingdom. Don’t ever under-estimate what God does in His kingdom through even your smallest gift given by faith. God is the Master Mathematician and He’s all about multiplication—especially when it comes to His glorious Church!

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