A good friend of mine sent this e-mail to me today. It was very stirring and I wanted to share it with you. I will link to the article mentioned below with some excerpts…

What would we say to this Afghan man, who has been open with his faith in Jesus Christ; or, at least has not openly denied his faith in Christ? Is he a fool? Or, has he been wise? Surely he is both. He is a fool in the eyes of men, but wise in the eyes of the Lord.

We do not know the whole story. Take a moment and read this short article. It will remind you again of the ‘real war’ we (and all God’s children) are in as God’s heralds/ambassadors and servant leaders in his Kingdom.
This Afghan man represents many in the nations who are daily faced with the question of “openly following Jesus Christ,” or “quietly following Jesus in order to sustain their lives and societal peace.”

This article does not represent all Muslims. That is, some Muslims might suggest this man should not be killed. But, I believe this article shows the nature, character, and rootedness of Islam. Islam is in a crisis, and has been.

What will we do in these days? Will we be like the Malaysian government, which is afraid to disagree with the unconstitutinal mandates of the Islamic courts in its country?

Will we, and the missionaries we send, be prepared to suffer and equip others to suffer like this man?

The people of Islam need to hear and see the love of Christ. That is a love which lays down its life for its enemies. May the Lord help this Afghan man (Acts 7:54-60), whether he lives or dies, in Christ, he belongs to the Lord.

Let us consider the “Sermon on the Mount,” a great message of the Kingdom life/person:

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against falsely on _my account._ Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. _But I say to you_, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…And when Jesus finished saying these these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mt 5: 1 – 7:29, selections)

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The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

Returning

Return ArrowLike a long, boring letter or conversation, there’s a tendency to tune out. I pray I haven’t bored you by my long silence. Life has been full of many winding turns over the last year and I am just now getting my feet under me. I am re-thinking and re-tooling my blogging and writing.

I would like for you to enter the conversation and be a part of this part process blog, part resourcing blog, part rumination blog. Would you help me by sending me questions or topics you’d like me to deal with? You can send me an email or make a comment on this post.

I wait. . .

Modern-day Power Encounters

I remember reading in my Perspectives Class on world mission a phenomenon called “power encounters” whereby a missionary would directly confront the idols of the day in some bombastic way to show the futility of such idols. For example, tearing down a totem pole or cutting down a tree (if these were the items of worship) in an area. While the confrontationalist in me loves the idea, I wonder how much was missed in these opportunities to really get to the heart of idolatry–namely, through teaching that idols are nothing (1Cor 8.4). Yet for those who worship an idol, it is very much a real thing.

I am currently reading Roland Allen’s formative text on mission, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours, and have been immensely helped (in tandem with Lesslie Newbigin’s The Open Secret). Regarding the moral and social condition in which Paul preached, Allen makes this side comment:

Incidentally I should like to remark that in heathen lands it might still perhaps be the wiser course to preach constantly the supremacy of Christ over all things spiritual and material, than to deny or deride the very notion of these spirits. Some of our missionaries know, and it were well for others if they did know, that it is much easier to make a man hide from us his belief in devils than it is to eradicate the belief from his heart. By denying their existence or by scoffing at those who believe in them we do not help our converts to overcome them, but only to conceal their fears from us. By preaching the supremacy of Christ we give them a real antidote, we take them a real Saviour who helps them in their dark hours” (pp.28-29)

Allen brings balance. Too often preachers can assume they are preaching the supremacy of Christ, but they never pinpoint what exactly he is supreme over. Put another way, we preachers can preach rather generically. “Jesus is Lord over all!” We declare full throttle. Yet those listening have not been helped.

What is he supreme over?

He is supreme over your doubts of salvation. Your incessant anger. Your slavery to lust and pornography. Your boring and romantic-less marriage. Your bad parenting. Your disobedient children. Your greed. Your self-doubt. Your self-aggrandizement. Your obedient children. Your good parenting. Your healthy marriage. Your pure eyes. Your self-control.

He owns you. Therefore, the world doesn’t revolve around you anymore. Instead, he sets you free to think of others. Even more, he empowers you by his Spirit to think of other more highly than yourself. Your fears that you will be passed over for the job promotion. Your self-righteousness toward your unbelieving neighbor is set under his lordship in such a way that you no longer possess the answers, but are possessed by One who does. You cannot gloat that you understand the world en esse. Rather, you are saddened by the way the world actually is.

So, Christian, we need a modern-day power encounter. Not where we smash totems. But by understanding the world around us and helping others see our need for a Savior. We limp forward together. We bind up wounds together. We use the splint our arm is wrapped in to bind our neighbors’ arms. Thereby we see that instead of hiding the idol in shame, our neighbor is free to admit the idol and know that he will not be condemned but helped.