March 31, 2003, 11:38 am
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There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of “the missionary mandate.” This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point. It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel. If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving. One searches in vain through the letters of St. Paul to find any suggestion that he anywhere lays it on the conscience of his readers that they ought to be active in mission. For himself it is inconceivable that he should keep silent. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (I Cor. 9:16). But nowhere do we find him telling his readers that they have a duty to do so.

Lesslie Niwbigin, former missionary in India (nearly forty years)

The Gospel in a Pluralist Society


March 30, 2003, 10:24 am
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I went to a funeral yesterday. It’s kind of a weird thing, but two of the things I was most uncomfortable with when I was “entering the full time ministry” were hospital visits and funerals, and now those are two of my favorite things about my job. I usually leave funerals wishing I could have known the deceased better – even when the funeral is for someone I’ve known fairly well. I always leave with a desire to communicate my love for people more effectively, and to give myself away to others more freely. The people who make a lifestyle out of generosity (emotional, energy, time, money) are the ones who have the greatest impact.

March 28, 2003, 1:52 pm
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After a barrage of nasty little anti-Muslim comments about The Living Room blog in a number of places, I’ve decided that the only reasonable thing for me to do is add the blog to my blog roll.

March 27, 2003, 10:37 am
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Michelle are beginning to plan our first Dinner Club night – probably the first weekend after we’re done at the church. I know this isn’t anyting terribly original, but we’re going to invite 15-20 friends from different aspects of our lives – church, family friends, Michelle’s work, general people we know – and just have dinner together. Michelle and I will be the only ones who know everyone. We will give our guests the instruction to get to know one another, but on a significant level – no deep dark secrets, but we want our friends to get beyond the surface stuff and talk about what’s really important in their lives. I’m really hoping/expecting this to go well, and that by the end of the night we’ll send our guests home having scheduled the next Dinner Club gathering, with the expectation that they will bring friends of their own next time.

March 25, 2003, 10:00 am
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It’s gonna start getting dicey around here pretty soon. I only have a little more than five weeks to finish well here, and start well on the church planting path. That sounds super busy to me. Probably too busy for me to be blogging right now.

March 24, 2003, 11:28 am
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Here’s a pretty passionate and powerful statement from Tony Campolo about the war via Jordon Cooper. It was actually given before the war began, but it has some really interesting arguments about the whole Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and how that is connected. Whether you agree with these thoughts or not, it’s a compelling thought to consider the impact on Christian missions.

March 23, 2003, 7:21 am
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Interesting weekend so far. Friday night we got to host Jason, Brooke, and Paige for dinner and some hang out time. I’ve known Jason for a little under a year at this point, but it sure feels like longer – in a really good way. Kinda weird side note here, but I was just thinking the other day that it would be cool to find out how I could be of direct service to helping the Iraqui people put their lives back together after the war. Then Jason starts talking about doing that kind of thing on Friday night – sounds like something new may be brewing.

Anyway, then last night we had dinner with some friends we’ve had for ten years or more. It was fun to hang out for a little while and laugh a bit, but the coversation felt forced to me in some ways. It brings up some weird feelings in me. Sort of like realizing that I’ve been born again . . . again. Not in the “I lost my salvation” sense, and definitely not in the “Fuhrayunnnnnd, you must be born agayunnnnn” sense. But when I had my most recent spiritual breakthrough and began seeing all the crap I had bought into within the modern church, it’s kind of like having had a conversion experience, where all of a sudden I’m having a harder time relating to the friends I’ve had in the past, because we have different values and different language and different goals now.

In a way it’s cool to embrace “new” friendships and settle into a way of doing life that I’ve embraced and feel energized by. But in another way it’s a little scary, because I find myself feeling like I want to just leave some of those old friendships behind. So I have to ask myself if I’m not just creating a newer version of a Christian huddle/ghetto for myself? And if I’m going in a church planting direction, will I be unintentionally leading others to do the same? I hope not. In this new emerging church thing, it’s going to be important for me/us to reach out not only to those who don’t know Jesus at all, but also those who have been introduced to Jesus via a system that has clouded the issue for them. In both cases, there’s a need for conversion. I for one hope to be converted to Jesus daily for the rest of my life – daily crucifixion of my selfishness, pride, envy, etc. and conversion to the one who gave all he had in order to find me and serve me – go read Philippians 2.