Thursday, July 28, 2011

John Stott, 1921-2011

One of the great giants of the faith in our time.   John Stott passed away today at the age of 90.

Memorial website here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Praying for Iranian Christians

It's actually a relatively new term.  To say "Iranian" and "Christians" together when referring to the ethnic Persian majority of that nation, and not to the ancient Armenian Christian minority, is really something amazing.  The fact is, tens of thousands of Iranians inside Iran are now professing to follow Jesus, and perhaps hundreds of thousands outside of Iran.  Because of this, we can now begin to speak of a new expression of Christianity arising that is authentically Persian (for more on this, have a look at Abu Daoud's article on Iranian Christianity).  However, as expected, there is a major backlash coming from the Islamic government in Iran.  The following video will help you get an idea of how to pray for our Iranian brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith in Christ.  We need to pray particularly for Yousef Nadarkhani, a pastor with a wife and 2 young children who is facing the death penalty if he does not recant, as well as for Farshid Fathi, who has been in prison since December of 2010.   Our prayers for Yousef are very urgent, as his case, which is filled with intentional ambiguity on the part of the Iranian Islamic courts, is at a critical phase where he could be killed or released any day now.  Let us pray for him to have the peace of God to hold on to his faith in the face of hanging.

Related Posts:
Three Reasons the Church in Iran is Growing
Pray for Farshid and our Iranian Brothers and Sisters

Anti-Insider and Anti-C5 Post and Video

Here is yet another post and a video from the blog Biblical Missiology that is extremely anti “insider” and anti C4/5.  Unfortunately, the video picks on a few extreme examples and misunderstands, misrepresents, and over-generalizes the C4/5 position. 

Biblical Missiology may have some serious concerns and valid points, but it doesn’t help create dialogue and understanding to label those who disagree with them “heretical.”  Imagine if all the Calvinists/Arminians, Presbyterians/Baptists, Cessationists/Charismatics called the other a “heretic!”

A couple questions:

  1. Do you think polarizing videos and posts like this from traditionalists help their cause, or hurt it?
  2. Can you provide any examples of someone who embraces the Insider or C5 position presenting the traditionalist position in such a mean-spirited fashion?  Why do you think that is?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cape Town 2010 Short Documentary

This 14 minute documentary gives an overview of the Lausanne Movement's Cape Town 2010 Congress held in October 2010.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Movements that Change the World

Josh Reeves has a summary of the book here.  "The main purpose of the book is to outline what Addison sees as the five key elements present in movements that possess the capacity to spread the Gospel. The five elements identified in the book are White-Hot Faith, Commitment to a Cause, Contagious Relationships, Rapid Mobilization, and Adaptive Methods..."

Speaking of movements, you've GOT to watch this video.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Missions

"The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”

-Henry Martyn

Martyn was educated at Oxford, and he was deeply affected by the commitment of William Carey and the devotion of David Brainerd. He fell in love with his cousin’s sister in law, but he considered marriage an earthly joy that would distract him from missions. When he arrived in India in 1806, Carey recognized his brilliance, and encouraged him in translation work. In the next four years he was able to translate the New Testament into Urdu, Persian, and Arabic. Martyn died at the age of 31, having only one convert, and before seeing his translations make it to print. “He was one of the first Protestant workers to direct his energies almost entirely towards Muslims.[1]

[1] Survey of Islam. Survey of Islam, Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. On the CDROM “The World of Islam: Resources for Understanding.” Global Mapping International: 2000.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Desiring God National Conference 2011

Speaking of the impulses behind this year's DG National Conference, Sept. 23-25 in Minneapolis, MN, Piper shares the Need, the Command, the Joy and the Name at stake.  That he would pick this topic - Finish the Mission - for his national conference says a lot about Piper's priorities.  I thank God for how he used Piper to call me into this work myself.  And I pray that he uses Piper to do the same for many others through this conference.  The slate of speakers is tremendous.  After getting to know Michael Oh, Michael Ramsden, and Jason Mandryk at Cape Town last year, I can assure you that they will deliver!  Giglio, Platt and Stetzer are no slouches either!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Recent “Bridging the Divide” Conference on Contextualizing to Muslims

Warren Larson posts his thoughts on the June 2011 “Bridging the Divide” conference here.  “Last week in the northeastern United States, “Bridging the Divide” brought together a group of about fifty people who have invested much of their lives in seeing Muslims come to Christ. The consultation, including five former Muslims, represented a wide spectrum of views on appropriate ways to reach Muslims…

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hiebert on why it’s not always God’s will to heal

In the very influential article by Paul Hiebert “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle,” Hiebert uses a case study of an Indian pastor named Yellayya in Muchintala whose village had an epidemic of smallpox.  The village elders decided a water buffalo should be sacrificed to appease the angry Goddess of Smallpox.  A crisis developed when the Christians in the village refused to chip in for the cost of this sacrifice and when a Christian girl became sick herself.  Hiebert reflects on his prayers for healing for this little girl:

Church and mission must guard against Christianity itself becoming a new form of magic. Magic is based on a mechanistic view — a formula approach to reality that allows humans to control their own destiny. Worship, on the other hand, is rooted in a relational view of life. Worshipers place themselves in the power and mercy of a greater being.

The difference is not one of form, but of attitude. What begins as a prayer of request may turn into a formula or chant to force God to do one's will by saying or doing the right thing. In religion, we want the will of God for we trust in his omniscience. In magic we seek our own wills, confident that we know what is best for ourselves.

The line dividing them is a subtle one as I learned in the case of Muchintala. A week after our prayer meeting, Yellayya returned to say that the child had died. I felt thoroughly defeated. Who was I to be a missionary if I could not pray for healing and receive a positive answer? A few weeks later Yellayya returned with a sense of triumph. "How can you be so happy after the child died?" I asked.

"The village would have acknowledged the power of our God had he healed the child," Yellayya said, "but they knew in the end she would have to die. When they saw in the funeral our hope of resurrection and reunion in heaven, they saw an even greater victory, over death itself, and they have begun to ask about the Christian way."

In a new way I began to realize that true answers to prayer are those that bring the greatest glory to God, not those that satisfy my immediate desires. It is all too easy to make Christianity a new magic in which we as gods can make God do our bidding.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Al-Azhar's Grand Imam declares support for a constitutional, democratic state

From Ahram Online:

In a document that read more as a short constitutional declaration, Al-Azhar defends universal human rights and rejects 'the theocratic state' as un-Islamic and autocratic by nature.

Read the whole article.  Al Azhar is the leading Islamic school in the world today. 

I’m most interested in this statement by the Imam, “Islam has never, throughout its history, experienced such a thing as a religious or a theocratic state.”  That certainly challenges my understanding of Islam and Islamic history!