Dealing with culture is messy. A church can take many different stances when dealing with specific cultural issues. How do we discuss the latest book or movie trends? Which culture pieces can be redeemed and which must be rejected? But the day to day decisions that a church makes concerning culture and how to deal with it boils down to one question: is our church a thermometer or a thermostat?
A recent article on Christianity Today is reverberating through the Christian blogosphere, and for good reason. The article is titled “The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries” and it details the startling findings of sociologist Robert Woodberry. The implications are incredible for the future of Christian missions.
There are two things that can happen during a face to face meeting: creating content or sharing information. In terms of the workplace, face to face meetings should happen only when real time collaboration and discussion are necessary. They should not occur to simply share information. And yet, I imagine most of the meetings you attend fall into the informative category.
A mirage is false hope. It is only helpful for motivation, not in reality. You can’t eat the sand. A mirage in your work or life will not sustain you. Reaching the destination of a mirage ends in a reality check. In other words, a mirage only prolongs and makes worse the inevitable.
“Daddy will you teach me this?” Those were the words from my three year old son recently. He was holding a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior. He received the box for Christmas, but his mom and I had not had time yet to begin teaching him the material. And as you know, toddlers are very inquisitive. He wanted to learn.
His simple, heartfelt question made me smile. And then it made me think. He knew – he believed – that his daddy had the answers he wanted. And he knew that his daddy loved him and would help him discover.
It was 12:55PM in Manila. I was sitting at home, having already celebrated the new year coming in, hoping to catch the ball drop in Times Square on TV. I was surfing USA TV channels trying to find the least-annoying hosts to watch the festivities. I ended up turning off the TV in frustration. Yes, the hosts were annoying. But what I encountered that caused me to turn off the TV in disgust was not annoying, mindless babble; it was debauchery glorified.
Tol·er·ance noun \ˈtä-lə-rən(t)s, ˈtäl-rən(t)s\
: willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own
The recent media storm surrounding statements made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson have sparked many debates around “free speech”. But the real issue here is not Phil Robertson, what he said, how he said it, LGBT rights, or even free speech. A&E has every right to fire Robertson. They are a private company, and they can do whatever they feel is right. The LGBT community has their right to voice their concerns, and Phil Robertson has a right to express his opinion.
The real issue here is absolute truth.
The key phrase in Webster’s definition of tolerance is “willingness to accept”. For decades in this America, tolerance meant that even if I don’t agree with you, I will still “tolerate” your views because we live in a free country, side by side. An “agree to disagree” sort of world.
That world is no more. “Tolerance” is now defined as accepting anyone’s view as long as they do not claim to have absolute truth. I will tolerate you as long as you admit that I’m right too. Absolute truth is the deal breaker, because in our post-modern world, no one can have it (many believe). If you claim to have absolute truth, you are bigoted, intolerant, and should be ostracized from the community.
That’s what is happening to Phil Robertson.
It’s what happened to Jesus.
It’s what happens to Jesus still, and those who follow Him.
Christ’s claim on absolute truth strikes people as intolerant, because it puts them in a position of being wrong. And for them, that is intolerable.
So, Christians, don’t be “surprised” or in “disbelief” about the reaction to this latest firestorm. Jesus predicted, correctly of course, that this would happen.
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15:18-20
The world hates believers in Christ, because we are holders of absolute truth.
No water. No electricity. No communications. These were the conditions on Bantayan Island following Typhoon Haiyan. Most of the island was completely destroyed, impacting thousands of families. The family of Pastor Dennis Medosa survived the storm, and thankfully escaped with no physical injuries. But their lives had been completely rearranged.
During the storm, the family was huddled inside their home. The storm began to rip their house apart, and fearing for their lives, they fled to the nearby church building. Next, the storm ripped the roof off of the church building. With nowhere else to go, the family weathered the storm inside the church. The typhoon blasted Bantayan Island for 5 hours, and daylight showed the devastation that it had wrought.
Bantayan Baptist Church has a main church building, operates a Christian school, and has 4 feeding centers for underprivileged families. All of them were utterly destroyed during the typhoon. All of the school supplies and books, the computer center, the church benches, the musical instruments – everything is in ruins. Pastor Dennis says, “basically we are back to zero in our ministry”.
Global Surge is committed to helping Pastor Dennis and Bantayan Baptist Church rebuild. We are partnering with them to strengthen their ministry and expand their influence on the island.
We will be helping in several phases of relief:
Phase 1 ($25,000) – providing immediate relief to the community through food, water, temporary shelter, etc.
Phase 2 ($50,000) – rebuilding Bantayan Baptist Church, the pastor’s home, the Christian school, and feeding centers
Phase 3 continuing support through specific projects to stabilize the church and impact the community
Our initial goal is to give a total of $75,000 in two phases. Phase 1 is completely funded and is now ongoing. We need your help to fund Phase 2 ($50,000) and rebuild this ministry. To date, we have $25,400 committed for Phase 2.
Please consider a gift to help us rebuild the ministries of Bantayan Baptist Church.
Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about overconfidence: “It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, “Congratulations.” I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus.
On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don’t forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven’t in the 30 years since.”
Focus is important. Lose it and you lose your way.
Sometimes we miss what God is saying because we are too focused on earthly circumstances and not on Him. This happens to me, to you, and we have a record of it happening to the disciples. In fact, the account in Mark chapter 8 is a little humorous, or would be, if the subject was not so serious. In the account, the disciples in the boat with Jesus were so focused on their hunger that they missed an entire spiritual lesson, and Jesus could not have been more frustrated with them.