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Posts from May 2009

Bible study: Jesus and the Loony

This afternoon I am leading a Bible study at a house church meeting. It will be on Matthew 17:14-20. Its the story of Jesus and the loony boy. The original word means "moonstruck" or "lunatic" but its pretty obvious he had a demon and Jesus kicks it out.

Its an amazing story that seems pretty straightforward; most probably a generational demon that entered through his dad mucking around in mischief, the kind of pesky demon that needs a little more turbo power to expel than your average demon. Jesus is bigger than the boogieman and the disciples need to exercise more faith. In fact, that kind of faith, says Jesus, can move mountains.

But then Jesus goes and ruins a perfectly straightforward miracle and its subsequent lesson by quoting some texts from the Old Testament and then all of a sudden, the story takes a new turn. The stories Jesus weaves into the present encounter are from Deuteronomy 32 (You unbelieving and perverse generation") and Numbers 14 ("How long will I put up with you"). They are stories that, very much like the Transfiguration account that couches this story of the loony, have connections with clouds, mountains, rocks, tents, and even Joshua who turns up in both stories. Interesting, knowing that Jesus name is actually "Joshua"

Anyway, the story moves like a Dan Brown novel from this point and creates all kinds of questions about what mountain, if any, Jesus is referring to that needs moving. And is there a relation between the loony boy and the nation of Israel. And what exactly is Jesus adding to the interpretation of this account that we should know.

So, if you are coming along this evening to the house church meeting, you have a few clues as to where the study will lead. Take a look also at the mountain in Daniel 2, the mountain in Matthew 21:21 which I see as referring to Israel, and read the same account of the Transfiguration and the loony boy in all the Synoptics - where you will notice exactly the same sequence of events. All very interesting. See you tonight. Dont forget to bring your Bible


Rock Harbor an Emerging Church?

Its an interesting conversation for some. Rock Harbor Church is an item in the blogs right now after Lighthouse Trails gave them a hard time for being an "emerging church" and Rock Harbor has responded with a video. Phoenix Preacher has the skinny and is following the conversation. I wrote my thoughts a few years ago on Rock Harbor, which I did not consider an emerging church, as if that really matters to anyone or not. All quite silly, actually. Not quite sure why I am blogging this.


Remembering Ralph Winter (Missiologist), 1924 - 2009

ralph winterThe famous missiologist Ralph Winter passed away on May 20, at the age of 84. He was one of the most intelligent Christian men I have ever met. He was a genius. He was a mission geek in the truest sense - a man with a gigantic mind like a computer that continually processed everything, looking for patterns, for answers, for new discoveries. Having said that, his huge brain dominated his personality and I don't remember him as someone who gave as much attention to the other areas of life as he did to that of academics and strategy. Quite common for intellectuals of his era.

I worked part time for 6 months at the US Center for World Mission in Pasadena, which was founded by Ralph and Roberta Winter, helping in the development of the Christian Foundations program. This was back in 1993-4 when we parked our old campervan at the USCWM and lived in it while I studied at Fuller SWM. Ralph's office was next to ours and I saw him most days when I worked there but actually, we didn't have many great conversations or moments together. At least not back then.

My most memorable time with him was a 90 minute phone call about Celtic Christianity that happened a few years later. He was intrigued that so many young people were tapping into the memory of the Celtic church and were structuring in a decentralized way ["sodal"] like the Celtic monastic orders. He spent most of his time on the phone talking and I hardly got a word in. His wife, who passed away in 2001, had just contracted cancer and he was on a mission to figure out the spiritual nature of diseases and perhaps find an answer. He loved to talk and teach and pass on knowledge and it was just great to have this legendary genius talk on and on about whatever came to his legendary mind.

I remember him as the man who put "unreached peoples" in our dictionary, who contributed great and unique ideas about the history and strategy of Christian mission, as one of the prime movers behind Perspectives of the World Christian Movement [which has a chapter of mine in the new version] and the guy who brought to our attention the two distinct structures of God's mission [download PDF] that we sometimes refer to as modality and sodality.

For a taste of Ralph Winter at his best, I recommend reading his essay "The Kingdom Strikes Back: Ten Epochs of Redemptive History." Read it on Google Books or buy the Perspectives manual to see it in context. And check out John Piper's Tribute as well.

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Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter, in celebration of the ascension of Jesus Christ. NT Wright has been publishing and preaching on Ascension in recent years and its importance in our theology. Check out one of his Ascension messages here.

I know its more about the resurrection than the ascension, but Si Smith, illustrator and creator of the 40 series, is working on something new for 2010. An image from this new collection on the resurrection was just released on Church Times. Nice one Si!
HT: Dave Walker who says "This image, depicts John 21:9-13, with the Sea of Galilee appearing in the guise of Roundhay Park's boating lake."

Si-Smith-Resurrection#1#

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Scholarships for the 2009 Global Roundtable

The 2009 Global Roundtable for Emerging and Underground Ministries will be called "Kalejdoskop" and it will be held in Poland, July 8-11. There are a number of ministry leaders who cant afford the airfare and need scholarships. In particular, leaders from these countries:

India, Brazil, Venezuela, Macedonia, Equador, Chile, Portugal, Albania and Turkey.

Slotchathballoon-2

We are all camping in tents around the Abbey that is used for the event, which will be held at SLOT Art Festival in Poland, and so it will not cost very much at all. But we still need about $6000 for these scholarships that will enable about 14 leaders to attend. Let me know if you can help, or if you want more information.

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Oh - we just heard that we have use of this Baroque ballroom for our Friday night party. Cool.

Also, SLOT Festival needs about 900 volunteers so if you are looking for a summer opportunity to serve God in a really needy and spiritually exciting environment, sign up and come over to Poland.


Baptists and the Emerging Church

Hi everyone from yesterday's Baptist meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. Thanks for coming to the meeting and for such an inspiring and encouraging afternoon. REALLY REALLY GREAT to be with you.

Here are some links related to our talk yesterday about emerging church, church planting, etc.

"The Emergent/Emerging Church: A Missiological Perspective" Dr. Ed Stetzer, Fall 2008, Vol. 5. No. 2. The Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, The Baptist Center of Theology & Ministry: A Research Institute of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. You can download the PDF here. On the same document is a great response to Stetzer by Dr Jack Allen Jnr - its hilarious and clever and thoughtful. You will LOVE it!

Also:

- You will find information and thoughts on the Fourth Sector and mission here on my blog.
- Video of Dr. Francis Dubose who brought the "missional" term back into use in 1984.
- My thoughts on "missional"
- Tribute to Bro Thom Wolf

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Monday Morning and I need some PMS Coffee

Pms Coffee

PMS Coffee is about ten minutes from our campsite here in Lisbon. Its a great name but I don't think the Portuguese speaking owners see the humor [PMS, for non-native English speakers, stands for Premenstrual Syndrome].

Any ideas for a possible tagline? How about . . .

PMS Coffee: When you need a coffee RIGHT FLIPPIN' NOW!!!!
PMS Coffee: Where everyone is employee of the month.
PMS Coffee: The best damn coffee in the world! Period.

Anyone???????

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Money for Missions: The Big and the Small of it

This week I was on the phone with an Executive Director of a Foundation that gives millions of dollars to missions. Things are tight right now for them, as they are for many other faith-based Foundations, but they are doing their best to keep commitments to missionaries. Not easy during this recession when the returns on investments dont bring the kind of returns they had hoped for. Missionaries who depend on these kinds of gifts are struggling this year.

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Immediately after hanging up the phone with this Foundation, I went out to dinner with a Portuguese house church pastor. His tiny church had put together a HUGE love package for our missionary family including 5 bottles of wine and all kinds of food. There was even an envelope with money as a thank you gift for our ministry in Portugal five years ago.One of the families who gave included a not-so-wealthy family with two children. One of the children, on hearing of our family's mission, donated the entire contents of his piggy bank to help the gift go further. This church leader wept when he received the gift and was really emotional when he told me the story.

The big and the small. Both important to God. Its weird being in the middle of these two disparate groups; Foundation leaders with large investments and little boys with piggy banks. The Kingdom of God moves forward on the resources of both groups. A verse leapt to mind that I should share. It speaks of contentment and the pleasantness of God's gifts, whether big or small. Psalm 16:5-6

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Related: Christianity Today have a great article this month on how the church will probably give more this year, even though philanthropy in general has dropped during this recession. Check out Church Giving Outlook: You've Got Some Time. and there is lots more to read in their economic crisis section.

More on Tallskinnykiwi: Christian Conferences: The Carnival is Over
Top 5 Ways for Ministries to Get Over the Recession
Larry's Recession and the Debt Dependent Church

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