It’s so hard to say goodbye to dead liberal movements….

25 Jan

Yes I did sing that to the Boy 2 Men tune. Try it, it is fun.

Here is the deal-ly-yo when I started this blog I was (rightly I think) reacted to some of the less orthodox goings on in the world of Evangelicalism… It was rude, sarcastic, and fun. Since then however several things have happened: 1. The movement sorted itself out, the radical wings of what the heck ever the “emergent church” is has decided that they do not want to be labeled evangelical anymore than we want them to be. 2. Mars Hill Church in Grandville has significantly decreased in influence here in my primary ministry field of Grand Rapids (though you gotta give them a hat tip for hiring flat out theological nut job Shane Hipps) and 3. Lots of bloggers blog constantly ripping on these same things and they are not near as funny or enjoyable and even worse some of them may not even have functioning brains (No offense to Ken Silva’s body) or a discernible gender (yes that was a Slice of Laodicea reference) and frankly I don’t want to be associated with them. 4. I am reformed theologically but I have lost all interest in being one of those guys who thinks that if you are not reformed in exactly the same way that I am then you are a heretic (No they do not teach you to write that at Master’s Seminary)…infact I have had great conversations with people on all sides of every debate here…as long as they have a sense of humor…  5. I want to write about the things that matter to me and the title of this blog is just out of date. At the end ofthe day what I really care about is being an urban missionary who proclaims the greatness of Jesus in a way that makes sense to the culture and leads to repentence. So anyhoo, I am moving here: MissioDave.  I plan to actually blog there,  but unlike this blog when I started,  I don’t really care if you read it.   It will of course be a lot like this blog,  same jerky me, different title.

Dear ABWE guy…

17 Dec

Dear Missions guy,  I tried to email but you did not respond.  I am sure you were busy out raising money…er reaching people for Christ. It seems you and I have a little issue and I just wanted to hash it out. So it seems that you think American cross-cultural ministry is a “waste of life” and that we should not be doing it because there “is a church on every corner.”  Wow.  I am sort of shocked,  but I guess I am glad that we know how you feel.  I guess if you feel that way,  you feel that way.  It was the way you expressed your feelings that bothered me.

Missions  guy,  did you really think it was smart to tell a young girl,  who has dedicated herself to cross-cultural ministry that she was wasting her life?  Did you really think it was wise to tell her that we already had too many churches here?  She came home from your West African fundraising dinner very disappointed and that I think is a shame.  Frankly, A-guy , that makes me angry.

Your attitude is not only ignorant and offensive,  it is patently unbiblical and it also shows that you don’t really care all that much about West Africa.  Here’s how I know.

See if you really cared about West Africans you would have celebrated this young lady’s ministry.  You would have fallen in love with it and begged to pray for it.  Because she was the key leader in what as far as I know it the only ministry to Sierra Leonans in this town.  Now if I know my geography (and I am not great at it but I can read the map),  Sierra Leone is in West Africa no?  If West Africa being reached is your job,  you might have wanted to hear about how she ran a program called “Houses of Learning” where she set up in home turtoring for children from Sierra Leone.  You might also have wanted to hear about the “Friendship Dinner” she set up where Muslim parents cried and asked why she loved their children so much.  Your heart would have swelled as she shared how these dear souls from Sierra Leone asked us to share “the reason for the hope that is in us.”  Perhaps even you, might have been moved to tears as you watched videos of young men from Sierra Leone being Baptized.  Instead you told her she was wasting her life.  Because we have to many churches.  We will come back to that latter.

Here is another thing I don’t understand Missions guy,  if she were to agree with you and give up,  as I assume you think we all should, what would happen to these groups from Sierra Leone.  I mean I know there is a church on “every corner” but if those churches are being so effective why is there only one trying to reach this group?

But Missions  guy it is not just this group,  in our neighborhood there are over 48 different languages spoken,  if as you suggest we are “wasting” our lives, what about them?  In our neighborhood the 48 languages represent 48 different people groups.  Of the 48 people groups only 2 have active ministries to them outside of the ministry you have deemed “wasteful”,  those groups are white Americans and Hispanics.  The ministry to Hispanics takes the form of a Catholic church.  So even if we grant that (which I doubt you would) that leaves 46 people groups.  Maybe you are right,  why would we waste our lives on them,  when we could spends 100,000’s of thousands of dollars to fly across the sea and reach their country men.

Then of course we come to the key issue, even leaving aside the Cross-cultural nature of our work.  Does America need more Churches?  You seem to think no.  And yet every statistic we see tells us that America is the 3rd largest mission field in the world.  You seem to think that America is reached,  and therefore we can “Move on.”  I would suggest that this very attitude has largely contributed to the fact that America is a post Christian nation.  At what point will you admit that America needs reaching? When will you come to the realization that immigration is changing the racial and religious make up of our country?  When will you see that there are millions is this country who need Christ and have not heard?   When the money for your current mission dries up?

I think it is safe to say that anyone who claims to care about Christ, about unreached people and about Missions would be embarrassed by your remarks.  I am praying that your heart will be captured by Christ before it is too late.  Before you have wasted your life.

D

Roger Olson Suggests Calvinists are Bad at Bad Fiction.

13 Oct

Darn you Roger you have exposed our soft underbelly!  Oh the humanity.  Roger Olson suggests here that if we can not express our beliefs in a subpar creative way that makes everyone giddy, then the obvious conclusion is that our beliefs must be false.  In fact, quoth he,  if  we Calvinist did put our beliefs into a subpar artistic expression, you know like a book by Lahaye and Jenkins, a Kincade painting or Ken Silva’s blog, everyone would reject Calvinism,  because clearly,  and I think rather obviously there are two standards for belief that we must abide by:

  1. The popularity of any given position (as obviously that is why they killed Jesus,  he was too darn cool and palatable)
  2. Bad Fiction.

Using Roger’s system of populatiry plus lack of artistic ability I will now be living my life according to Dan Brown novels.  Thank you Rog,  you changed my life!

D

What it Really Looks Like to Love Jesus

8 Oct

My good friends are focused on being Functional churches in the Philippines.To be functional means that they are word and deed Christians.  They have a vision to see the Philippines transformed, this means that they are both the hands of Jesus and his voice,  you must both speak and live the gospel.  This video is of them responding to Ondoy flooding in Manila.  Honestly this video is more meaningful than anything else on this site. The poorest of us here in the US is rich compared to the poor in the Philippines.  They need our help and our prayer.  We need to be like them.

If you feel called to give to relief in the Philippines, all of the money will go straight to Hope Churches of the Philippines  and part of Converge Philippines and  Converge Worldwide and will be used for direct relief. You can give by clicking below.

Fear and Promise and Public School

5 Oct

Historically I have been afraid of a lot of things.  I tend to be a bit phobic.  In no particular order here are some things I have been (or currently am) afraid of:  The dark,  mice, cruise ships, seaweed in small lakes, abandonment by my mother (not in the traditional sense,  but when I was young and she went to the bathroom I would knock hundreds of times just to make sure she was still there).  And that is just the top of my weirdness.  Fear has always been an issue with me.

Surprisingly while I am desperately afraid of Corn Fields (am I the only one who grew up terrified of the cover to the Children of the Corn video at Block-buster?) I have always be very comfortable in most urban settings.  In places where some would be shaking in their boots because they were in “the ghetto” I have never really felt a great deal of trepidation.  Now I am not stupid,  so when I accidentally wrote down the wrong address and map-quested my wife and I into the wrong neighborhood in Chicago last year,  I was of course very glad to see the police officer whom we followed out.  But for the most part the ‘hood holds a special place in my life and God has called me to it.  I have found the God gives me the grace and strength to fulfill that which he calls me too.  And I am good with that.

Right now however I stand at the edge of an interesting precipice looking over the edge and I am going ot have to decide what wins out.  Calling or fear.

Let me explain.  We are a public school family.  We are a public school family because God has called us to be so.  We have seen what God can do with a family of missionaries who live fully indigenous in this way.  The kids for their part are not very interested or even aware that within evangelicalism there are people who choose to do schooling another way.  They just know that every thing our family does is committed to God and that they belong to him for his Glory.  We talk about this.  A lot.   T-Ball= God’s glory,  Drama= God’s glory,  PTA= God’s glory,  Coop Preschool= God’s glory, Time consuming, highly annoying presidency for wife of said coop preschool=God’s glory.  These are conversations we have.  they are beautiful conversations.   I see even now in my babies the rejection of American gold for deeper treasures.  It is lovely.

So here is the quandry:  Hayleee is nine, and nine is almost 12 and 12 is almost 13 and 13 has the word “teen” in it.  That is just scary.  Thirteen means JR. High and that is really scary.  JR. High means fighting, and teasing and mean chicks who feel terrible about themselves and who have a tendency to attack anything that moves.  Scary.  Do you know what else is scary?  J,  (who is so called because fresh from the womb we dubbed him “Baby J” but at the ripe age of 6 he no longer lets us call him “Baby”) is halfway to 12.  Do you know what happens to twelve year old boys in neighborhoods like ours?  Twelve (and honestly younger) is when gangs start to put on pressure.  I just thought of this recently.  I totally freaked out inside!  Gangs and my baby J.  That scares me to death.  Not to mention all the other things that happen in neighborhoods like ours.  Last week for instance, our school’s Jr. High football team got into a post game fight because the other team’s (Calvin Christian Junior High) players told our kids during the post game hand shake “You Black Boys can’t play football”.  And while it is true I view this as a justified fight,  I am also aware that in neighborhoods like ours their are a lot more fights, both physical and spiritual, justified and unjustified.  It can be dangerous.  It can also be exhausting,  because if you are going to live here you are going to have to fight the spiritual fights that people who live far from here know nothing of.

I admit it.  Sending my children to public elementary school was an easy decision for me.  It’s a great school and we are very involved.  It is always fun to tell people that my daughter (who is in forth grade) has never been in the majority culture in any year of school. But I will also admit this the prospect of Jr. High is scaring me to death.  I love my babies deeply.  I am scared of sending them to catty girls and dangerous gangs.  But there is also the issue of calling.  I know we are called here.  I know God told me to place them in the Public school.  Two weeks ago I even preached a message and told Haylee from the pulpit “Haylee,  you belong to Jesus.”  It is just much easier to live when there is no fear.

Ah the fear.  But what to do.  For me as I fight the interenal urge to latch on to my children and snatch them back from the edge of a future I do not know,  the only answer I have found it to give up on the myth of control.

A story.  Two days before Haylee was born my beautiful nephew Christopher died.  He died of SIDS at the age of 11 months.  We were deep in the mounring and praying hard the God would keep Haylee from being born for at least another week when Libbie’s water broke.  It was time.  From the hospital I called my family at the funeral home and sobbed how beautiful Haylee was,  not sure if I wept for Christopher or Haylee.  Three days later we returned home and the fear set in.

I was scared out of my mind.  If Christopher could die in his sleep then so could Haylee.  This bent me to my core.  I had to do somehting to keep it from happening so I gave myself over fully to the myth of control.  I would keep her alive.  It was a simple system really.  Each night I would place Haylee in her crib in the room next to ours.  I would make sure she was on her back.  I would also make sure that there was nothing in the crib that could fall on her face.  We dressed her in thick pajamas even so that we would not have to put a blanket in the crib.  But that was just the beginning.  After placing her in her crib, I would go tuck my self into bed.  This was January so there is a certain amount of nestling that one who lives in Michigan has to do.  I would nestle puling the covers up to my neck and get comfortable.  Then as soon as I was comfortable I would jump back out of bed and run back down the hall to the crib. When I got to the crib I would pick Haylee up and hold her close listening for here breath.  Once I was sure that she was breathing I would place her back in bed and return to mine,  where I would craw into bed and begin to nestle again.  I repeated this process several times through out the night.  My working theory was that if I could go into her room enough times during the night,  if I could place my hands on her belly and feel her breath,  if I could just keep this up then I could keep her alive.  I was in control.  The problem was that I could not keep it up.  A human can only go so long consumed by fear and without sleep.  So what was I supposed to do? Let my baby die?  No.  I just had to give up on the myth of control.

It occurred to Libbie and I almost at the same time,  and when it did it was as if a veil had been lifted and we were able to see the most beautiful sight we had ever seen.  What occurred to us was this:  We were not in control.  But God,  our loving father, unequivocally was.  If if God was in control,  I mean really in control and we were not, then it changed everything.  If God was in control then it did not matter how many times I snuck into Haylee’s room and listened for her breath,  If God should call she would not live.  But the reverse is also true, if God was in control,  I mean truly in control, then there is nothing that would sneak up on him and surprise him,  no disease, no syndrome, not anything,  if God should choose, she could not die.  The day I realized this it changed everything and I finally slept.

When I kiss Haylee good night now at age nine I instinctively plass may hand on her belly.  The other day she asked me why.  I smiled and told her the story.  But I do not do it with fear.  Now the act for me is like Noah’s rainbow,  a reminder of God’s promise.

Here I find myself contemplating school, and mean girls and gangs and the glory of God and I am again forced to question whether I will give into the myth of control or allow a loving God to be in charge.

What will I do?  Haylee, J and Noah:  You belong to Jesus.

Stuff I Believe that Never Makes me Cool…

11 Sep

U2 Sucks.  Not much substance here,  I just like to lead with the ones that are most likely to tick you off.  Its the depravity in me.  It’s how I roll.  Its not that I don’t think that Bono guy seems nice (can you believe he was married to Cher?) its just that I don’t like their music.  I also believe that you probably wouldn’t either if it was not cool.

Dear Benny Hinn…

20 Jul

For context read this:  Benny

Dear Benny,

I know you will try and call down fire (though to be honest to a human sense of directions you should probably call it up..from your buddy satan, in hell, where you are going…) but I just wanted to stop in post this and say very clearly: you are a giant whore.  A filthy, filthy whore.  Its ok I have been there.  No, not trying to bilk poor Africans out of billions, but none the less, one sin puts you and me in the same camp.  I know, it stinks,  you don’t want to be to close to me because I am the odd mix of poor and educated and I am not going to sign my bank account over to you,  and I am not thrilled because to be honest,  I love Jesus, you don’t and everytime you claim to,  it makes Him look bad.  But none the less I digress, you  and I are in the same camp. We were born sinful.  Thing is I met Christ and he is changing me.  I would recommend the same for you.

Peace,

D