Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Show our love to the children in our churches

Someone at church made two comments today, which I think are very insightful.

(1) For the parents the most important thing is that their children want to come to church. (I guess that is the ideal scenario.)

(2) The children stay at church (when they grow up) because they have had a good relationship with other parents.

As a parent I know that it feels great if the children want to go to church. But at the same time it is not about going to a church where the children can be "entertained" (if I may use that word) with a fantastic program. Instead, it is about relationships that they can have in church. It is not only their relationship with other children either. Rather, their relationship with the adults is also very important. Do they feel welcome by the adults? Do they feel loved and cared for? Do they feel, on the contrary, that they are second class citizens in the church (ie. not as important as the adults)?

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Luke 18:15-17; TNIV)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tim Chester, UK

Here is Tim Chester's website. To give you an idea of who he is and what he does, here is an excerpt from his website.

I am a writer, Bible teacher and church planter. I am married to Helen and have two daughters, Katie and Hannah.

I am a leader in
The Crowded House – an international family of church planting networks – and within TCH I lead The Edge Network in Sheffield, UK. Most of our congregations meet in homes. We emphasise sharing our lives together rather than programmes and structures. ‘Ordinary life with gospel intentionality’ is one of our catchphrases. The Crowded House is often described by other people as part of the emerging church movement. It is true that we have a different approach to church to that of most traditional churches. But we are also different from many in the emerging church movement – we are Reformed and evangelical with a strong emphasis the centrality and sufficiency of the gospel word. See also the blog entry on Total Church.

Have a lookat his website!

Tim Chester website

The challenge for a Christian media manager

I am reading a magazine called East Asia's Millions (Jul-Sep 2009). There is an article written by the OMF International Media Projects Manager. Here is a reflection from him.

My other challenge is to tell the whole truth, however imperfect it may be. There's a tendency in the Christian media to create and tell 'perfect' stories, with anything unpleasant or difficult left out. I believe most people realise this filtering goes on and can therefore become suspicious, even desensitised, to most media. What would their reaction be if we told the gritty truth, even about mission? I believe that vulnerability and truth builds trust; after all, our god is a God of truth,...

Want to serve God in Asia?

I like the work of OMF because they have (1) A proven record of long-term commitment to the people in Asia; (2) A genuine international team of workers; and (3) A heart to serve the poor.

For video resources for yourself and your church, just click on the following links.

OMF Overview: Love Asia
OMF Media
A call from the international general director

Love Asia

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Looking for a book about hospitality, violence, and reconciliation?

If you are interested in the issues around hospitality, violence, identity, otherness, reconciliation and the cross, I would recommend Hans Boersma's Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross and Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace.

Their conclusions are different in many ways. But I think they do agree on many points. Both authors cover the issues in a very thoughtful way, and both endeavour to be faithful to the Scripture. The two books are not easy to read. But if someone is going to hold a strong view about peace, hospitality, the theology of atonement, and/or "just war", it would be wise to first wrestle with the issues the books cover.

The God I don't understand

I just started reading Christopher Wright's new book called The God I don't Understand. It looks like a good book. I particularly like Wright's humility. It explores four questions.

What about evil and suffering?
What about the Canaanites?
What about the cross?
What about the end of the world?

I like the fact that the author acknowledges that there are issues that he never understands fully because the Scripture does not give all the answers we want, but at the same time tries to outline what the Bible does say.

Here is a quote on the issue of suffering (page 27):

"Whereas we often ask 'Why?' people in the Bible more often asked 'How long?' Their tendency was not to demand that God give an explanation for the origin of evil but rather to plead with God to do something to bring about an end to evil. And that, we shall see, is exactly what God has promised to do."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is there such a thing as "just war"? - ask a child

Last night I chatted with my son about the issues around war and peace, and explained to him that there are Christians who believe in "just war" and there are those who are "peace activists". We looked at some Scriptures and talked about why different people arrive at different conclusions. Here are two interesting comments from my son.

(1) Whether the war is just often depends on your point of view. It depends on who you talk to. For example, on which side of the conflict are the people you talk to?

(2) A full-scale war can start simply because of a minor conflict between a small number of people.

I think both my son and I agree that love and forgiveness are the key to understand the gospel and should be our focus in each conflict.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Weakness, shame, honour, foolishness, wisdom, power

"To Paul, weakness is strength, shame is honor, foolishness is wisdom, and humility is the power of God. This is why the Corinthians did not appreciate Paul, did not understand the gospel and therefore did not realize what was required of them (2 Cor 13:5-10)" (Capes, Reeves and Richards)

For the Corinthians, Paul's letter was apparently very counter-cultural. It is probably still very counter-cultural for us today. A big challenge for us all.

(I read the above quote from a book written by David Capes, Rodney Reeves and E. Randolph Richards called Rediscovering Paul (p. 167). The context is 2 Corinthians. It is clear that the Corinthians failed to understand Paul and the gospel. )

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Victory over powers of oppression

Hans Boersma (Professor of Theology at Regent College, Vancouver) has written a book called Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross. It is not an easy book to read unless one has had theological training. But the following is a good quote about the place of the church in speaking up against injustice.

"The Christus Victor theme of the atonement is in a real sense the most significant model of the atonement. The result of Christ's work of recapitulation is victory over the powers of oppression. In other words, God's hospitality aims at the freedom of humanity and all creation. The whole creation is waiting to 'be freed from its slavery to corruption and brought into the same glorious freedom as the children of God' (Rom. 8:21). This freedom no doubt includes freedom from social and political bondage. The concrete language with which the Old Testament prophets describe the peace and justice of the coming kingdom of God precludes all spiritualizing that seals off salvation from our concrete historical contexts... The Church must of necessity be careful in asserting its authoritative voice in the particularities of social and political issues. Nonetheless, there are situations of egregious evil and injustice where the Church must speak as Church in order to effect redemptive liberation. What is more, even when the Church cannot speak as Church on specific issues, it nonetheless directs the religious and moral lives of the believers, who cannot but make social, economic, and political judgments that ultimately stem from faith commitments that speak of redemption and liberation." (p. 248)

Book: Unconditional Love brings "dead" women back to life

I have written a book review for a recent book called Dead Women Walking.

Here is an excerpt from the review.

"Dead Women Walking is a book for those who have a passion to see authentic Christianity at work in real life situations - domestic violence, alcoholism, poverty, racial and class discrimination, and even demon possession."

It's available at Australian Christian book stores.

Click here for the review.