Neighbor 8: Someone Who Is Unable to Ask for HelpPosted: Monday, August 8, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, Isaiah 55:8-11, justice, Proverbs 31:8-9, Wayne Gordon Comments Off on Neighbor 8: Someone Who Is Unable to Ask for Help
Chapter 8 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Unable to Ask for Help”.
You know, it seems like I have addressed this in previous posts…those unable to ask are hurting, need help, cannot help themselves, appear on my path, have been robbed, half dead and naked. Any and all of these friends may not be able to ask for the help. So, I am kinda stuck here on who to cover in this post. So, it will be short. Isaiah, the prophet, said these words in Isaiah 55:8-11 (NLT).
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
I’m going to let the Word speak for itself with no explanations. My thoughts are not His thoughts. He wants sooo much more for us than we can possibly imagine. Gordon offers us scripture that tells what we are to do…so let this Word not return void. Let this scripture speak to you. Meditate on it. Ask the Lord…What do you want to tell me through this scripture? What, specifically, are You calling me to do? Show me what that looks like. Then, go and do. Let’s do the Bible together.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
Thanks God for giving us your Word to instruct, rebuke, correct and train us so that we may be fully equipped to do your work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) I pray that through Proverbs 31:8-9 that you will speak to all who read it. Allow this scripture to prick our hearts into action. Teach us oh Lord how we can speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Use us to seek justice here on earth….so that your kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven. In the name of our Savior I pray, Amen.
This is the 8th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.
Neighbor 7: Someone Who Is NakedPosted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, ephesians 2:5, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, helping others, naked, Richmond Justice Initiative, RJI, Sara Pomeroy, Wayne Gordon Comments Off on Neighbor 7: Someone Who Is Naked
Chapter 7 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Is Naked”. Curious question…Do you say nay’ked? or neck’ed? Regardless…naked can mean nude, bare, unadorned, unarmed, exposed, unprotected, uncovered, stripped…to name a few. Of course, the first thing we think of is undressed! Now, depending on the situation, the naked/undressed person may be in need of a neighbor. Someone who lost their clothing while skinny dipping, perhaps. Or a woman who got caught in a rainstorm and is now in a see-through or clinging t-shirt or dress. Because of illness, someone who doesn’t even know they don’t have clothes on or are uncovered. We need to be their loving neighbor and find them cover.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were ‘outed’? People found out something about you that you didn’t want them to know. Or you were transparent one time and shared a private moment with a ‘friend’ who then used it against you, ridiculed you, told others, etc. That is a very embarrassing and vulnerable, sometimes devastating moment…and you really need a friend and neighbor at that time. We need to cover you at that time. We shouldn’t get caught up in the hatin’, gossip and talk. Instead, what if WE were the one who befriended you instead?
But, I also think of the defenseless – those who can’t help themselves. Our God has given our friend, Sara Pomeroy, a heart for people involved in Human Trafficking. Through Richmond Justice Initiative (RJI), Sara and her team are being great neighbors to victims of human trafficking. In addition, they are also providing an opportunity for others to be neighborly as well through their training and volunteer programs.
RJI is a grassroots faith based organization of modern day abolitionists committed to ending modern day slavery, commonly referred to as human trafficking.
Our approach in order to eradicate this issue is to combat this crime on all fronts, through pursuing awareness, education, prevention, advocacy, aftercare and prayer.
Gordon summarizes this chapter writing…
There are a lot of naked people in our lives. They may not be without clothes, but they have in some way been stripped of their dignity, stripped of who they are as human beings, and limited in some way from being all they ought to be and can be. They need someone to come alongside who simply will not allow them to feel embarrassed, but who intead will affirm their dignity and provided the same kind of tender, loving care offered tot he man who, many years ago, went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
Thank you Lord for providing neighbors and friends who can come alongside us when we are feeling exposed and vulnerable. Forgive us of times where we may have harmed another intentionally or unintentionally. Give us the strength to stand up for those who physically or emotionally stripped of their dignity and pride. Teach us how to love like the Good Samaritan and raise us up to be the defenders of those who are naked. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
This is the 7th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.
Neighbor 6: Someone Who Is Half DeadPosted: Saturday, August 6, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, ephesians 2:5, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, helping others, truth, Wayne Gordon Comments Off on Neighbor 6: Someone Who Is Half Dead
Chapter 6 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Is Half Dead”. Wow! I guess not many of us have encountered someone who is half dead. Louis and I have. On our 4th date (3 1/2 years ago), Frank got shot 9 times outside our back door. By the time the paramedics arrived, he had no pulse and was only breathing once or twice a minute. He was left for dead, but God had another plan for him. Because Louis and I were home to respond with prayer and first aid. he survived. So, Frank was our neighbor that night. As time went by, Frank and his family became more than neighbors or friends, but they are family. We love them like they are our own. It’s been a real blessing for us to know Frank, Vicky, the girls and Geraldine.
But, like yesterday’s post, Neighbor 5: Someone Who Has Been Robbed, people can also be half dead emotionally. They may not be able to experience the full life that God intended them to have. Life full of joy unspeakable and full of glory. God can use us to help breathe life into another person with our words of encouragement and love. Sometimes life is just hard…and it stinks. We need to learn how to just be be there with and for our friends when they are troubled emotionally and spiritually without judgement. Be there in love…and love alone.
Lastly, we need to be there with people who are half dead spiritually because they continue to wallow in their sin. Gordon writes…
Ephesians 2:5 tells us that God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions –it is by grace you have been saved.” We need to resuscitate people in the our communities who are half dead and who don’t know Jesus Christ. For truly they are our neighbors.
Lord, thanks for using us as your hands and feet on Earth. You don’t need us, but you choose to use us to shine your glory. Forgive us for the times we are not paying attention, too busy or too selfish to notice who’s barely breathing around us. Open our eyes to see people around us who are walking around half dead emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Teach us how to love them like you love us…with patience, kindness, full of hope, and unconditionally. In your name we pray. Amen.
This is the 6th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.
Neighbor 5: Someone Who Has Been RobbedPosted: Friday, August 5, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, helping others, John 8:32, robbery, romans 3:23, truth, Wayne Gordon 1 Comment
Chapter 5 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Has Been Robbed”. It is easy to think of the people who have literally been robbed or burglarized, whose car was stolen, whose home was broken into, or whose wallet was taken out of their pocket or handbag. Yes…those are people who need a neighbor. I remember having my bag taken off my shoulder in the middle of the street one evening…robbed of a few dollars and a couple of Clinique Lipsticks. Thankfully, it was a small bag with little money. But, I was shaken none-the-less.
In addition, Gordon got me thinking about folks who have been robbed of their dignity, or robbed of their innocence or virginity or robbed of a healthy home life. My heart breaks for them…and they need a neighbor.
This post focuses on one who has been robbed of the truth. We have all been sucked into the ‘Material World’ – that money is the answer to everything. I see it on FB and Twitter a lot….all about makin’ ‘bank’, ‘dough’, ‘benjamins’, etc. We often care more about what car we drive, what shoes we wear or bag we carry, or how many games we have. We are also robbed of “community”, and we think that it’s based off how many people are our ‘friends’, ‘followers’, ‘text’ etc. Many are robbed of deep and intimate friendships and hide behind their smartphone or laptop (or MacBook in my case!).
We have been robbed into believing the lies that Satan whispers in our ears. That we aren’t smart enough, cool enough, or good enough to succeed. We believe that the things we have done…aren’t really all that bad and we water down the Truth, but in fact…they are still sins. Then there are others …at the opposite extreme. We think that what we have done is too bad to be forgiven. Well, the Bible tells me….all have sinned and fallen short (Rom 3:23). We need to be there for folks who have been robbed of Truth. Truth shall set you free. (John 8:32)
Gordon ends the chapter with…
Who do you know who has been robbed? That person is your neighbor. Reach out and offer your love. And remember that your action may benefit more than just that person, because you never know who might be watching and might be drawn closer to Christ because of your example.
Lord, your Word tells us that if we seek truth, we will find it and we will be set free. May your Holy Spirit pour out a desire to seek and discern truth. Provide us the wisdom to share truth. Make us hungry for your Word, for it is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path. Give us the desire to pray for those who have been tricked into believing the lies of Satan. May we come to know and share the TRUTH that shall set us and others free. Pour it out, oh Lord. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
This is the 5th post in a series that I wrote about in who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.
Neighbor 4: Someone In My PathPosted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, fallen world, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, helping others, superman, Wayne Gordon Comments Off on Neighbor 4: Someone In My Path
This is the fourth post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting. Side note, I think this is finally going to be a short post…well in comparison anyway!
Chapter 4 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor is Someone Who Appears on My Path’. I think this is finally going to be a short post!
After writing the last 3 posts, I began to worry that I was sounding preachy or that I was putting people on a guilt-trip. That is the last thing I wanted to do. I checked in with a few readers (one of which is Louis…but biggest fan and critic!) and they said I wasn’t. I know that I am passionate about this, and only wanted to express that to others. Wayne Gordon also states….
One of the greatest challenges facing preachers and Christians teachers is to exhort followers of Christ to do what they can do without making them feel guilty for not doing what they can’t do. Too many people feel guilty for, or at least trouble by, not doing anything about problems they cannot do anything about–for not helping people they are not in a position to help.
We are constantly being inundated with pleas for help…Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Orphaned Children, Abandoned Cats and Dogs, A Child with Cancer, Aids in Africa, Homelessness, Human Trafficking, Elder Abuse, Fatherlessness, The War on Drugs, Immigration, Crime and Poverty, Land Use, Environmental Concerns, etc. It’s all too overwhelming and depressing when you sit down and really think about it all. We live in a fallen world.
I agree with Gordon.
These stories grieve us, but the reality is that none of us is Superman. We have neither the opportunity nor the ability to solve all these problems…we need to pay attention to those people and those opportunities God has placed on our paths. Who are the people whom God allows you the privilege of coming into contact with on a regular basis? Those are your neighbors.
Please don’t misunderstand me and think I am saying that we shouldn’t give to these needs. Yes…give to those who are doing great work in areas of mighty need! Please! But, I’m saying that we also have needs that are right in front of us that we shouldn’t ignore. There is a someone in your path every day that could use your help, if we look for them and respond. Someone who doesn’t just need a check, but needs a ride to the grocery, needs prayer, needs help moving, needs someone to listen, needs parenting advice, needs career advice, needs help with deadlines at work, etc. What I am asking is…. How can we love our neighbor at work? at the gym? at the doctor’s office? at our book club? at the grocery store, restaurant or park?
Lord, there are so many needs, so many hurting people. It can be overwhelming, and I am thankful that you are in control, not me! Sometimes the burden feels so heavy, but I give it all to you to carry, because you have told us not to. Today, I ask you to use me in a simple way. Make me aware of the people in my path. Who needs my help? Use me to meet that need. Lord, let me not come up with an excuse as to why I can’t help, but Lord, I ask You for the strength to be about YOUR work…for YOUR glory, not mine. Thank you, Lord. In your name we pray. Amen.
Neighbor 3: Can’t Help ThemselvesPosted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, helping others, Sodom, world-view Comments Off on Neighbor 3: Can’t Help Themselves
This is the third post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting August 1st…no promises, though. The first one in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting. Side note, I am trying to keep these short, but am having a really hard time. Hang in there with me!
Chapter 3 answers the question with…‘My Neighbors Are Those Who Cannot Help Themselves’. And you may think…who is that? Who can’t help themselves? Gordon starts off with a great (yet horrifying) story of Pompeii following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius – slaves that were chained behind fences…defenseless to what was going on around them. Then, he goes on to the devastation of Katrina. How a large percentage of people couldn’t head the warnings to leave new Orleans due to lack of transportation. So, how many of us would be willing to spare room in our cars for carless, low-income, strangers to sit, not to mention to bring some of their belongings? Seriously….would we have even thought about it in our hurry to get our stuff and leave the city? Gordon shares a story about how one church did just that. How encouraging it was to hear!
In the story of the Good Samaritan, he was probably tired from his travel and looking forward to getting home. He may have been shy or socially awkward. He could have had a very important business meeting to get to. He may have been focused on other things or distracted by stuff life presents. Yet, he stops and cares for this battered man….and ensures his safety, care and comfort for an extended time. Yet, we don’t even notice in our own self-absorption.
This requires a total change in world-view. A view of putting others first, ahead of ourselves. A view of laying judgements aside and seeking understanding. A view through the eyes of Jesus.
As a society, we have allowed our hearts to become hardened to these people who need our help. To simply write all of them off as lazy is to ignore the call of the gospel to love our neighbors. It’s to abandon the responsibility that those of us who have been given much have to give to those who have been given little….
In Ezekiel 16:49, the prophet elaborates on the sin of the city of Sodom, writing, “[They] were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”
Wow….who does that sound like today? We sound like a modern-day Sodom. This needs to change!!! We have a Biblical obligation to care for the people who can’t help themselves ~ The ones who truly can’t pull up their own boot straps. The ones who have tried, but find the straps get cut as they are pulling hard. The ones who are tired and weary of trying. The ones who are depressed and giving up.
I think about people who don’t have the resources that Louis and I have. We are truly blessed to have a network of friends and family who are…doctors, vets, lawyers, social workers, mechanics, carpenters, architects, real estate agents, financial advisors, police officers, etc. These friends are just a quick phone call away. Louis and I have quality education and have had life experiences that have taught us how to handle situations….and people who have walked us through difficult times. What about folks who don’t have this kind of network? or don’t have the education or life experience to handle what life throws their way? and they don’t know anyone who has? These are people who can’t help themselves.
I have friends in my community who I also have to go to for help…who show me the ropes, who teach me another way, who keep me real. I am forever indebted to them. We all have something to bring to the table. We all have a lot to learn. For there are many times I can’t help myself….and need some help….desperately.
Lord, you say in the Word that we will be judged as we judge others here on Earth. Forgive us for our judging attitudes and replace it with loving, merciful view of others. It’s so easy to say – ‘Let the government take care of that issue.’ or ‘Why don’t they just go get a job?’ Lord, this is so complex! It’s not that easy. But, in you Lord, all things are possible! Help us to understand the complexities and provide us with the wisdom to help solve the issues that stand in the way. Lord, we don’t need or want to be arrogant, overfed and unconcerned. We need to be filled with humility and concerned over what concerns you. Show us how to do that. Break our hearts for what breaks yours…and may we do it on an individual level and a corporate level in our churches. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Neighbor 2: Needs HelpPosted: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: chapter a day, good neighbor, Good Samaritan, half marathon, helping others, helps, marathon, Psalm 46:1 Comments Off on Neighbor 2: Needs Help
This is the second post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting today…no promises, though. Yesterday’s post (the first one in the series) can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.
Chapter 2 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor Needs Help’. Churches spend a lot of time teaching us how to love God, but little time on how to be a good neighbor. This series challenges me to love my neighbor in a different way. I thought I was pretty good at it…and you know what, I’m not bad. I can just improve on it. Helping those who need our help naturally follows those who are hurting. Louis and I have both had surgery in the last couple of weeks, and we are greatly appreciative for all of those who brought meals, helped clean/straighten the house, etc. We feel so loved!!
Wayne Gordon writes:
On the surface, helping others seems like a very simple concept. It’s not. Of course, if all we mean by helping others is opening the door for someone whose hands are full, that’s one thing. But it’s another thing if helping means that we have to get involved in another persons’ life, as the Good Samaritan did.
To some of us, we have been gifted by God in the area of ‘helps’, and assisting others comes very naturally. To others, this is a pretty frightening thing to do. Getting involved. Developing relationships. Hanging in for a season of time versus a hit-and-run help. Gordon suggests that you start off small. Similar to running a marathon. You can’t expect to jump up one day and run 26+ miles without training. So, you may start off signing up for a 5k. Then, work your way up to a half marathon. You can do this with helping others. Gordon suggests that you start small by remaining…
aware of and open to the opportunities we have to help those who cross our paths unexpectedly. The Good Samaritan probably did not wake up in the morning expecting to come across someone who needed his help. But when the opportunity presented itself, he embraced it.
This requires a total change in lifestyle and the way we prioritize, not just throwing money at it. You can help in unexpected times or in a planned response. To name a few, it requires…
- slowing down and paying attention to what is going on around you
- observing the routines of the people around you and questioning when there is a change
- leaving room to see the need and respond
- possibly foregoing the dinner or movie with friends you intended to make or catching a later train, flight, etc.
- running errands or cooking a meal for a family with a new baby
- cutting grass for the elderly widow down the street
- fixing the car or porch railing for someone who can’t afford to or just doesn’t know how
- waking early to give a neighborhood youth a ride to school when he misses the bus
- speaking out for those who don’t have a voice…the poor, the orphan, the widow, the immigrant, etc.
- relocating into an under-resourced community and participating in redistribution and reconciliation (read more at CCDA)
There are so many ways we can help those who need us. And so many people who can help us when we are need.
Lord, you are our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1). Teach us how to recognize people who need our help and show us how we can help them. We are so busy running here and there…often busy doing church stuff…good stuff… that we often forget to BE the church. Teach us how to prioritize. Teach us to love others as ourselves, as you have commanded us. It doesn’t come naturally to us, but I pray that you will show us how. Lord, I also pray that you will teach us how to ask for help when needed and how to accept help when offered. That’s really hard for many of us. May our acts of helps and kindness bring glory to your Name. In the precious name of our brother, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Neighbor 1: HurtingPosted: Monday, August 1, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books, who is your neighbor? series | Tags: bishop steven w banks, chapter a day, Commonwealth Chapel, father-wound, Good Samaritan, hurting, john eldredge, neighbor 8 Comments
One thing I have learned recently is that most of my posts have been WAY too long, and I am going to work on that. So, keep me honest…and help me keep these short.
This is the first post in a series that I wrote about called who’s ur neighbor?. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a day. In addition, I hope to post on each chapter each day…starting today…no promises, though.
Chapter 1 answers the question with…’My Neighbor is Hurting’. Hurting is defined by physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. I could offer up many examples of hurting. I see it lots and am sure that you do to.
The Father-Wound is one that comes to mind today. Saturday, Louis attended a gathering of men who were discussing the Father-Wound, what that looks like and how to be healed of it. We hear of fatherless children, abused children, but many also have fathers who are physically present, but are emotionally detached, others who are deceased. All of which creates a deep wound in the hearts of boys and girls~and then you grow up with that hurt still present. In the spirit of keeping this short – to learn more, check out Fathered by God by John Eldredge and Healing the Father-Wound by Bishop Steven W Banks. People experiencing Father-Wounds is just one example of hurting people.
So, I challenge us today…look for people who are hurting, and see if there is a way to help your neighbor by easing their pain. What does that look like? It looks like sacrificing time to…
- be a father-figure for a kid, young adult, or even a mature man who needs a father.
- visit, call, write, etc. when the person or a loved one is sick or dying.
- be present…sometimes without saying a word.
- hug them or hold their hand
- cry with them
- kiss a skinned knee
- babysit…for no charge!
- if you worship at Commonwealth Chapel, note who lights a candle, and pray for them throughout the day/week. (or however your church takes requests)
- what else?
We can’t love our neighbors until we recognize them. So look around you. Be sensitive to those who are suffering — who are hurting — sometimes in silence. They will not be hard to find. And remember, that hurting person is your neighbor. Like the Good Samaritan, we have the option to walk away and the opportunity to love.
Follow-up to MissionSHIFT – Pt 1 ~ What WAS I thinkin’?Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books | Tags: Hesslegrave, missiology, mission, MissionShift, Stetzer Comments Off on Follow-up to MissionSHIFT – Pt 1 ~ What WAS I thinkin’?
So…this is a follow-up from my post yesterday, MissionSHIFT – Pt 1 ~ What WAS I thinkin’?
In yesterday’s post, I was not apologizing for being simple-minded and intimidated, but I was just being real. Ya’ know…there is something to be said for both…keepin’ it real and keepin’ it simple. Most people can spot ‘fake’ a mile away, so I do my best to be real and sincere. Some people pontificate (how’s THAT for a big word?!?!?) on their thoughts and beliefs; and I have been known to do that a bit! But, I have also been told that my communication is often brief and simple. Regardless, I was honored that my words were selected to be used in Ed’s follow-up blog post. Too bad they weren’t all my words! LOL But, I am grateful for my dear friend and mentor, Don Coleman, who keeps it real, and simple, with me.
But, I would much rather hear your thoughts on the idea of Mission, especially after reading Ed’s thoughts on the results from yesterday’s discussion.
MissionSHIFT – Part 1 ~ What WAS I thinkin’???Posted: Monday, January 17, 2011 Filed under: 2k11, books | Tags: Ed Stetzer, mission, MissionShift 2 Comments
A month or so ago, I (along with a few dozen others) agreed to participate in an online book discussion of MissionSHIFT: Global Mission Issues in the Third Millennium, a collection of essays edited by David J. Hesslegrave and Ed Stetzer. After reading the introduction, written by Ed Stetzer, you will find 3 essays:
“ESSAY 1: “Mission” Defined and Described” Charles Van Engen
An essay where Van Engen writes on “Mission in the Past” followed by 4 responses by Keith E. Eitel, Enoch Wan, Darrell L Guder, and Andreas J Kostenberger.
“ESSAY 2: The Gospel in Human Contexts: Changing Perceptions of Contextualization” Paul G. Heibert
An essay where Heibert writes on “Mission in the Present” followed by 4 responses by Micheal Pocock, Darrell L. Whiteman, Norman L. Geisler, and Avery T. Willis Jr
“ESSAY 3: The Future of Evangelicals in Mission” Ralph D. Winter
An essay where Winter writes on “Mission in the Future” followed by 4 responses by Christopher R. Little, Mike Barnett, and J. Mark Terry
Each essay and its responses is also followed by a response by Ed Stetzer; and the book concludes with Chapter 20 – “CONCLUSION: A Scientific Postscript – Grist for the Missiological Mills of the Future” written by David J. Hesselgrave.
After receiving the book in the mail and reading the first part of it, I immediately asked myself….WHAT IN THE WORLD WAS I THINKING?!?!?!? I MUST TRULY HAVE LOST MY MIND! I have absolutely nothing to say…and in no way can I “hang” with these intellectual thinkers and writers! This type of reading and reflection is certainly for the “heady” types, like my husband, Louis (with his 2 masters and 1 doctoral degrees). Admittedly, I was tempted to ask Louis to craft a response, but I refrained! I am not too embarrassed to say that I am not a “deep thinker”, but am quite frankly pretty simple. Therefore, my response will be somewhat simple as well. No big multi-syllable word. Just me being me, feeling somewhat insecure and intimidated about it, but fulfilling my commitment to join the discussion, none-the-less.
So, with that disclaimer behind me, I will now provide my thoughts after spending some time in prayer about what I read.
I will lead with a question. Why is there soooo much talk and discussion about “mission” and being “missional” yet we aren’t talking about the doing? I could easily end there, but feel compelled to expand the thought a bit more. I am what most would say “new” to the “missional movement” discussion after attending 2 conferences (Verge and Exponential) and reading countless books, articles and blogs on the topic of church/gospel planting and missional communities. I don’t believe that on this side of heaven we will ever agree on the “right definition” of Mission or the “right way” of doing it because we are human. Those who walked with Jesus and talked with him directly and got the Word from the horse’s mouth (no disrespect intended!!!) didn’t get it right. What makes us think we will get it right?
When my husband and I first met 3+ years ago, he talked about “organic” church, “simple” church, “emergent” church, etc. I’m like “What are you talking about???” It truly sounded like a foreign language to me. In some cases, I still think that. We can get so caught up in language and verbiage that we miss the point entirely. I can boil it down to 3 words. Do.The.Bible. (As taught to me by one of my mentors, Don Coleman.) Do what the Bible calls us to do. Do what the Spirit leads me to do in the way the Spirit leads me to do it…which may be different than what He leads another to do. Do it prayerfully. Do it in accountability with others. Do it as a way of life individually and as THE church, not A church.
You see…I guess I was already being “missional” before “missional” became cool. I just didn’t call it that, neither did anyone I know. It’s the way that I live. It’s the way I roll. It’s what I do…every day. And, I don’t understand why we have to come up with a name for it or dissect it. I am being Jesus to those I interact with. For me, that meant moving into a high crime, low income area just a half-mile from the largest project between Philly and Atlanta. This was not an intentional decision on my part…to move in, be incarnational, and serve the “least of these”. But, it was through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Frankly, if I had known what God was calling me to do, I just might have fought against the move a bit harder. For me, it was being in relationship with drug dealers, prostitutes, homeless, fatherless kids, single moms, and jobless while I was at home. For me, it was being in relationship with the multi-millionaires with jobs, homes, spouses, kids, soccer games, etc. while at work. Keeping my eyes and ears open for the “person of peace” I could share the love of Jesus…both at work and at home. Don’t ruin it with titles, definitions, and explanations. On a side note…I’m trying to figure out what is next…due to job elimination, I faced the unemployment line starting 1.1.11. So, I continue to follow the Spirit’s leading with people who I come in contact with. Some…intentionally, after prayer. Others…more by happenstance. I call it obedience. What would you call it?
So, I digress a little…back to the book and the discussion…
When Van Engen is asked about his definition of mission, on page 27 he writes…
I’ve been working on that for about 40 years now. Thus far in my own search for a definition, I have arrived at the following tentative attempt: “God’s mission works primarily through Jesus Christ’s sending the people of God to intentionally cross barriers from church to nonchurch, faith to nonfaith, to proclaim by word and deed the coming of the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ through the Church’s participation in God’s mission of reconciling people to God, to themselves, to one another and to the world and gathering them into the church, through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, by the work of the Holy Spirit, with a view to the transformation of the world, as a sign of the coming of the kingdom in Jesus Christ.”
Now it’s your turn…
How would YOU define mission? Let me know your thoughts by commenting to this post.
For more thoughts on the topic, you can read some great stuff on Ed Stetzer’s Blog, specifically his 1.17.2011 post Monday is for Missiology: Mission, Described and Defined: A Discussion around MissionSHIFT. Be sure to read the comment section for others’ thoughts as well!