Friday, September 29

Building a Foundation on Prayer

Several weeks ago I posted a story about the Teleamigo Ministry here in Guayaquil, a modern day 'Five Loaves and Two Fishes' story.

I invite you to view and hear some of the people we work with and see some of what God is doing in our midst through this ministry. This 3:22 minute IMB video is entitled, "Building a Foundation on Prayer" and was uploaded to YouTube with permission.

Hopefully the video will inspire you to pray more for us. As the title implies, PRAYER is the foundation of everything we do.

If you'd like to join our prayer team send a blank email to either or I also point your attention to the right side-bar where you can click on Muse PrayerNewsletter and Guayas Mestizo Team.

Wednesday, September 27

Why do so many of our church plants fail?

The Good News. Over the past few years we have seen over 250 house churches started. All of these have been begun by winning new believers and discipling them to the Lord. These new church plants are led by lay believers, many of them 2nd generation Christians coming out of the original church plants. Hundreds of souls have come to know the Lord through these church starts.

The Bad News. Less than 100 of these can be found today and remain active. We despair at the great number of church plants that start well and yet within weeks or months disintegrate into nothing. This of course has us trying to figure what is going on? Why do we have such a high attrition rate? I can only speculate at this point and openly invite input from others.

Some thoughts that come to mind from our own local experience:

1. Leadership of the new works do not really believe that the house churches are legitimate N.T. churches. Most of our servant leaders come out of the established traditional evangelical churches and carry with them huge amounts of extra-Biblical baggage. We do our best to teach them what the NT says, but breaking paradigms is hard. Our training is viewed not so much as planting new churches, but as a way to grow the already established churches (more converts=more money coming in=bigger facilities/staff=more ministries=greater prestige,etc.)

2. Failure on the part of us missionaries to properly spend necessary time with all of these church planters to teach, mentor, encourage, etc. There are so many of these folks scattered all over the city and province. We haven't figured out the best way to maintain meaningful relationships with them to be able to journey with them through the ups and downs of church planting.

3. As George Patterson teaches, slowness to baptize new believers may be a cause for many of the churches disintegrating. While baptism does not save, we do feel that until they are baptized, they are probably not saved. Baptism is the great deciding factor for most of our people. When they decide to be baptized, that is when they really have made up their mind to follow Christ. Even with our teaching on the subject there is often reluctance on many of the servant leaders to baptize because of years of evangelical traditions where only ordained ministers can fulfill this role. This is further complicated by the traditional churches not accepting the work and validity of the house churches or their leaders.

4. Lack of a clear network that ties all of the house churches together. We have tried many ways to keep alive some sort of network amongst the house churches but find it is difficult to achieve due to the size of the city, transportation factors, working with people from varied denominations and backgrounds.

5. Many have "closed shop" because they ran out of materials and lessons to teach. They simply "run out of gas" after a while and don't know what else to do. Ongoing training is one thing we stress and this has helped those who continue with the TEE and other training opportunities, but more often than not, what happens is that people fall back into their default mode and do not apply that which they are being taught. It doesn't take long for the blossoming new believers to notice that there are plenty of other churches around that seem to be doing it "better."

6. The attraction of the big, traditional established churches enticing the new believers into their machinery of programs, services, ministries. It is very hard to compete with the worship bands, trained preaching, nice facilities, programs for children and youth, etc. Many of our new believers in house churches will begin to compare their simple house church experience led by lay leaders with all that the bigger churches have to offer.

7. Lack of perseverance and/or lack of maturity by the lay church planter. They start out well and with enthusiasm, but begin to falter when the first problems begin to arise. They soon encounter problems that were not covered in our training (murmuring, jealousy, gossip, accusations, direction for the church, etc.) I really can understand better Paul's Epistles to the new churches in this light. There are so many problems in new churches and often the servant leaders simply do not feel equipped to handle a lot of what goes on. So the leader tends to shut down and it isn't long afterwards that the church shuts down too.

8. I have often thought of the parable of the sower in relation to church planting. Jesus speaks of several kinds of ground that the seed fell into. An abundant harvest takes place in only one of the types of ground while while the other three produce no lasting results. Maybe this is the norm and to be expected? Whether or not this is so, we long to see more permanent fruit, fruit that remains.

ANY INPUT OUT THERE WOULD BE APPRECIATED!!!--I am serious. For several years now, one of my frustrations as a church planting missionary has been our inability to get the necessary help/insight to be able to stop the hemorrhaging. We know how to start churches, we have what I believe to be great materials and training, but we aren't doing too well at sustaining them long-term.

More and more I feel the need for onsite "house church coaches" to walk alongside us and share what they are seeing. As Stepchild recently wrote about in an excellent article, church planting is more an art than a science. Our own vision gets clouded and we need a fresh set of eyes to help us see clearly what is happening. Someone who really understands our local situation and can advise from lived experience rather than simply referring us to an article/book/case study.

Monday, September 25

Frontier Theology: Are you a SETTLER or a PIONEER?

Much of the tension brewing in missionary circles is supposedly about theological differences between those who are more moderate (even liberal) in their theology and those who are more conservative (even fundamentalists). This is nothing new and has been going on about as long as Christianity has been around. Not only do we make theology an issue, we now find that church planting methodology/missiology is also up for debate as to the "right way" we are to do missions around the world.

David Rogers has an excellent post entitled: A Reply to Brad Reynolds, Keith Eitel, Paige Patterson & Robin Hadaway, where he does a good job at responding to many of the current concerns being expressed about the way overseas church planting is being done in various parts of the world.

Marty Duren also posted an interesting list of his own beliefs and asks the question just how large is the SBC tent? Is there room for all of us with all our differing persuassions, convictions, practices, viewpoints?

Both of these posts reminded me of a humorous article I read sometime ago entitled "Frontier Theology."

According to Wes Seeliger, there are basically two camps: the SETTLERS and the PIONEERS. Each has their own unique understanding of "theology" that determines how Christianity, church planting, missions, ecclesiology, etc. is carried out in everday practice. While only an analogy, I find Seeliger comes mighty close to the truth. Could the roots of the tension, accusations, misunderstandings amongst us be boiled down to are you a SETTLER or a PIONEER?

Frontier Theology
--By Wes Seeliger--

There are two views of life and two kinds of people. Some see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are SETTLERS. Others see life as a fantastic, wild, explosive gift. They are PIONEERS. The visible church is an outfit with an abundance of settlers and a few pioneers. The invisible church is the fellowship of pioneers. To no one's surprise there are two kinds of theology. Settler theology and pioneer theology. Settler theology is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of "Supreme Being," establish the status quo on Golden Tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life and live! The pioneer sees theology as a wild adventure, complete with indians, saloon girls, and the haunting call of what is yet to be.

The Wild West offers a stage for picturing these two types of theology. Settlers and Pioneers use the same words but that is where it stops. To see what I mean--read on.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small. This makes the thing easy to defend, but quite dark inside. Its doors are solid oak. No one lives there except pigeons and they, of course, are most unwelcome.

Within the thick, courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse runs the town. It is the settler's symbol of law, order, stability, and most important--security, The mayor's office is on the top floor. His eagle eye scopes out the smallest details of town life.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the church is the covered wagon. It is a house on wheels--always on the move. No place is its home. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love, and die. It bears the marks of life and movement--it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with bailing wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves in on the future and doesn't bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn't comfortable, but the pioneers could care less. There is a new world to explore.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--God is the mayor. The honorable Alpha O. Mega, chief executive of Settler City. He is a sight to behold--dressed like a dude from back East, lounging in an over-stuffed chair in his courthouse office. He keeps the blinds drawn. No one sees or knows him directly, but since there is order in the town who can deny he is there? The mayor is predictable and always on schedule.

The settlers fear the mayor but look to him to clear the payroll and keep things going. The mayor controls the courthouse which in turn runs the town. To maintain peace and quiet the mayor sends the sheriff to check on pioneers who ride into town.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--God is the trail boss. He is rough and rugged-full of life. The trail boss lives, eats, sleeps, fights with his men. Their well being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn't move--the pioneers would become fat and lazy. Living as a free man would be impossible. The trail boss often gets down in the mud with the pioneers to help push the wagon which frequently gets stuck. He slugs the pioneers when they get soft and want to turn back. His fist is an expression of his concern.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--Jesus is the sheriff. He is the guy who is sent by the mayor to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat--drinks milk--outdraws the bad guys. He saves the settlers by offering security. The sheriff decides who is thrown in jail. There is a saying in town that goes like this--those who believe the mayor sent the sheriff and follow the rules won't stay in Boot Hill when it comes their time.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find out which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians, feared by the settlers. Through his actions and words he shows the true spirit, intent, and concern of the trail boss. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it really means to be a pioneer.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the Holy Spirit is a saloon girl. Her job is to comfort the settlers. They come to her when they feel lonely or when life gets dull or dangerous. She tickles them under the chin and makes everything O.K. again. The saloon girl squeals to the sheriff when someone starts disturbing the peace. (Note to settlers: the whiskey served in Settler City Saloon is the non-spiritous kind.)

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the Holy Spirit is the buffalo hunter. He rides along with the wagon train and furnishes fresh, raw meat for the pioneers. The buffalo hunter is a strange character--sort of a wild man. The pioneers never can tell what he will do next. He scares the hell out of the settlers. Every Sunday morning, when the settlers have their little ice cream party in the courthouse, the buffalo hunter sneaks up to one of the courthouse windows with his big black gun and fires a tremendous blast. Men jump, women scream, dogs bark. Chuckling to himself, the buffalo hunter rides back to the wagon train.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the Christian is the settler. He fears the open, unknown frontier. He stays in good with the mayor and keeps out of the sheriff's way. He tends a small garden. "Safety First" is his motto. To him the courthouse is a symbol of security, peace, order, and happiness. He keeps his money in the bank. The banker is his best friend. He plays checkers in the restful shade of the oak trees lining the courthouse lawn. He never misses an ice cream party.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the Christian is the pioneer. He is a man of risk and daring--hungry for adventure, new life, the challenge of being on the trail. He is tough, rides hard, knows how to use a gun when necessary. The pioneer feels sorry for the town folks and tries to tell them about the joy and fulfillment of a life following the trail. He dies with his boots on.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the clergyman is the bank teller. Within his vaults are locked the values of the town. He is suspicious of strangers. And why not? Look what he has to protect! The bank teller is a highly respected man in town. He has a gun but keeps it hidden behind his desk. He feels he and the sheriff have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the clergyman is the cook. He doesn't furnish the meat--he just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss, scout or buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned to cook. The cook's job is to help the pioneers pioneer.


IN SETTLER THEOLOGY--the bishop is the bank president. He rules the bank with an iron hand. He makes all the decisions, tells the tellers what to do, and upholds the image of the bank. The settlers must constantly be reassured of the safety of their values. The bank president watches the books like a hawk. Each day he examines all deposits and withdrawals. The bank president is responsible for receiving all new accounts. This is called "the laying on of hands."

IN PIONEER THEOLOGY--the bishop is the dishwasher. He does the chores so the cook can do his job. He supports the cook in every way possible. Together the cook and dishwasher plan the meals and cook the food provided by the buffalo hunter. They work as an interdependent team in all matters related to cooking. Humming while he works, the dishwasher keeps the coffeepot going for the pioneers. Though the dishwasher has an humble task he is not resentful. All pioneers realize that each man's job is equally important. In fact, in the strange ways of the pioneer community, he is greatest who serves most. (A bishop is the servant of the servants of God. If the servants of God are cooks, what else would a bishop be?)

The complete book from which this was condensed is available from the author for $6.95. Wes Seeliger, 4027 Lanark, Houston, TX 77025

Thursday, September 21

Church planting movements—it’s all in the mindset

Steve Addison quotes from an article entitled REFLECTIONS ON CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENTS by Allen Thompson.

For healthy churches to be reproductive (become natural church planting churches), the book-of-Acts- Christian-ministry mindset must be developed. Keller says this requires the adoption of several principles:

First, the ability to give away and lose control of money, members and leaders. This presents a huge barrier for churches. Often, church leaders cannot bear the thought of losing money-giving families or key leaders or favorite friends. When a pastor helps organize new churches from his own church body, he loses money, members, numbers, leaders, and control. In addition, when a pastor lets go, he loses direct control while also assuming responsibility for problems in the project, a possibly unpleasant combination...

Second, the ability to give up some control of the shape of the ministry itself. This is a scary premise, especially to ardent truth-lovers. But the simple fact is that the new church will not look just like your church; it will develop its own voice and emphases. On the one hand, pains must be taken to ensure that differences are not too great (or fellowship and cooperation will become strained). But on the other hand, church planting cannot take place in the context of cloning. If a church insists upon reproducing an exact duplicate of itself, or if it is not willing to admit the necessity and reality of gospel contextualization (in that different generations and cultures will produce a different kind of church), then that church cannot engage in church planting.

Third, the ability to care for the kingdom more than for your tribe. Basically, the church planting mindset is not so much a matter of trusting new leaders but trusting God. Paul does not give the new churches up to themselves or others. He committed them to the Lord.

In the above I was struck by the repetition of key phrases, "give away...lose control...losing...letting go...give for the kingdom more than your tribe..." Is it any wonder we do not see more CPMs in our midst? We want control, we try to control, we are control-type people. But CPM is about surrendering over to the Lord these aspects of who gets the credit, who is in control. It is an understanding that it is about HIS kingdom, not our kingdoms.

My dream is to see God's people mobilized into the harvest fields by the thousands. I strongly feel the role of apostles (missionaries), prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers is to prepare the saints for harvest work. Can you imagine what would happen if even a third of those who profess themselves to be followers of Christ would actually OBEY what He commanded in Matthew 28 and truly go out and begin to make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe the commands and instructions of Christ? But we have quite the contrary mentality in our churches. The idea is to keep people happy and content with church life--that which takes place in the four walls of the church building. Yes, we do a lot of good things, but are we fogetting to make the "main thing the main thing?"

Sunday, September 17

Don't make this mistake

When setting out to plant a new house church (or any model of NT church), one can make many mistakes along the way and still end up with a NT ekklesia. There is one mistake, though, that if committed will almost always lead to church planting failure. Failure to do adequate follow-up is nearly always fatal to a church plant. It is undoubtedly the weak link in most evangelism-discipleship chains.

We are usually a lot better at "winning" people, but not so hot about following up decisions with immediate discipleship and personal attention. The fruit is generally lost due to our neglect. We birth spiritual sons and daughters and then generally abandon them by, 1) turning them over to someone else (seldom works), 2) a pat on the back with instructions to read the Bible, pray, and go to church, or 3) expecting them to somehow figure out on their own how to live their new faith (are new born babies expected to do the same?)

For several years now we have strongly stressed in our training the conservation element (follow-up) in soul winning.

I once read that studies show that if people making decisions for Christ are followed up within 48-hours there was a 50%-75% probability they would continue in the faith. If one waits 72-hours or more the conservation rate is practically ZERO!

I was curious and did an internet search to see if I could find some more information on the subject...

To my surprise, I found the Billy Graham organization reports that out of all the people converted through their ministry, 90 percent will be lost if not followed up within 48 hours; 90 percent are kept, however, when followed up within 48 hours!

Is it any surprise most of the people we win fall into the three categories of seed in the Parable of the Sower that did not bear fruit? When this happens our first reaction is the to blame the devil, the insincerety of the new convert, etc., but do we ever consider that it just MIGHT be we have failed to properly follow-up that new decision?

“Decision is 5 percent; following up the decision is the 95 percent,” teaches Billy Graham, the well known international evangelist.

In our own church planting training, fruit conservation (follow-up) is one of the pillar modules that is carefully stressed. It is the second "C" (conservation) of "c.o.s.e.C.h.a." (harvest) church planting training.

When a person expresses any kind of decision or interest in following Christ it is a MUST that BEFORE taking leave of the new convert, an appointment is set up to meet them on THEIR turf within a maximum of 48-hours.

There are then four responsibilities of the evangelist/church planter:

1) review their decision to receive Christ by going over the 1st lesson in the disicipleship manual, answering/clarifying any doubts, questions, etc.

2) visit with the person getting to know them better and hearing their needs and concerns, praying for whatever has been shared

3) help the new believer make out a list of family, friends, and neighbors who do not know the Lord and teach them how to begin praying for them (discipleship is all about obedience to Christ's commands, praying for the lost is one of the first practical lessons)

4) confirm the day/time for continuing the discipleship/mentoring at the convenience of the new believer (they are also encouraged to invite their family/friends to be part of these meetings)

In our own context those who take seriously the follow-up aspect of evangelism are the ones who end up planting NT ekklesias. Those who don't usually end up frustrated and disappointed.

What are your thoughts, experiences, observations with follow-up of new believers or seekers? Share with the rest of us what you have learned about conserving evangelistic results.

Friday, September 15

You may be a missionary if...

I have been ill most of this week and not up to giving much thought for any new blog entries. Someone recently sent me what follows. If you are/have been a missionary you might be able to relate to a few of these...for all others, welcome to missionary life!

You may be a missionary if ...

1. You can't answer the question, "Where are you from?"

2. You read National Geographic and recognize someone.

3. You have a time zone map next to your telephone.

4. You consider a city 500 km away to be "very close".

5. You watch nature documentaries, and think about how good that animal would taste if it were fried.

6. You can cut grass with a machete, but can't start a lawnmower.

7. You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.

8. You read the international section before the comics.

9. You have friends from or in 29 different countries.

10. You sort your friends by continent.

11. Fitting 15 or more people into a car seems normal to you.

12. You refer to gravel roads as highways.

13. You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.

14. You don't think that two hours is a long sermon.

15. You marvel at the cleanliness of gas station bathrooms.

16. You think you've died and gone to heaven when you go into a
foreign grocery store.

17. You think a "foreign school" conducts classes in English.

18. You attend a church with a roof on it and feel like you are cut
off from Heaven.

19. You think something is missing if you have a meal without brown
beans or brown rice.

20. You've ever chiseled open a barrel from home, not having a clue
what might be inside.
--original source unknown

Feel free to add your own "You may be a missionary if..." in the comments section!

Tuesday, September 12

Recent Interesting Blog Entries

There is a lot of good blogging going on out there. Here are a few recent blog entries that I found helpful, interesting, or challenging...

David Rogers, Denominational Distinctives

House Church Blog, Barna's Revised Statistics

Jeff Dunson, Messy Church - The Return

Nomad's, What's It Like: Part 1, Part 2

Mr. "T", the key to reproducing disciples, churches and leaders

Ken Sorrell's, Simplified Church Planting Master Plan

Kiki Cherry's, Whoa!

Donnie Starkey's, Always Harvest?

Ross Garner's, Starfish: A Parable of the Kingdom

Women 4 The Kingdom, Simple Church

The Missionary Iconoclast, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Missionaries a passage from India - why mince words

I invite you to share in the comments section other interesting blog entries that you have come across recently.

NOTE: I have recently changed over to the Blogger Beta. If you are having difficulty commenting, please log in as "other" or "anonymous" rather than using your blogger login.

Saturday, September 9

Laying aside our own agendas

Yesterday I turned 50. Hard to believe, but true. Most of the day was spent travelling back to Guayaquil from a three-day birthday trip up into the mountains with my wife Linda and daughter Anna (our son was on a school outing.) We ate lots of wonderful food, rested, read, swam in hot thermal waters, visited several local museums, and rode horses every afternoon at the nice "Hosteria" where we stayed just outside of Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city.

One of the most meaningful little books I have come across this past year is a daily devotional entitled, "Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen" by Charles Ringma. Every day's reflection expounds on one of Henri Nouwen's quotes. While I am still working my way through the devotional, I have yet to read a single reflection that didn't speak directly to my life.

The following words from Ringma's devotional spoke to where I find myself spiritually after fifty years...
One of our persistent difficulties is that while we want help, we do not want to change. We are quite willing to go to God to ask for strength, but not so willing to ask for redirection. We are happy to be encouraged, but not to be converted.

In doing this we are making the fatal assumption that we are okay in what we are doing and in our priorities; all we lack is adequate resources. And so we turn to God in prayer asking for more grace, more of His Spirit, and more of His power. Even in our search for solitutde and inner peace, we are frequently motivated by the ideas that we are simply looking to find greater inner energies in order to carry on with our own agendas...

[Prayer and solitude] is not the place where we recharge our spiritual batteries and then continue to live as we have lived before. It is not the place where we catch our breath in order to madly reenter the race. It is not the place where we simply find some quietness before we plunge into the world with its babble of voices.

The place of solitude is where we are changed. It is the place where we abandon some of our agendas, where we acknowledge our complusions, where we discover new directions and where, more importantly, we find a new self.
The above thought has gotten me to reflect about the multiple agendas I continue to try and control (see Martha post below). Most of my agendas are pretty commendable (or at least I think so), and seem to be the kinds of things expected of a missionary. Yet I am increasingly feeling controlled and bound by these compulsions and agendas and becoming dissatisfied with life in general. Most of this disatisfaction comes from not being able to direct the outcomes of these agendas nor control my own compulstions.

Hence, the need to seriously consider abandoning some of these agendas, acknowledge the unrealistic compulsions, and discover the new directions God has for me at this point in my life.

Tuesday, September 5

Steve Saint's "End of the Spear"

Last week I finished reading Steve Saint's remarkable book, End of the Spear. This past weekend our family watched the movie theater version on DVD. While the two bear the same title, I found they are really separate works. There is some overlap, but the narrative in each goes down separate paths.

The book was so captivating it was hard to put down. I found it to be a powerful and moving narrative. All my life I have grown up and lived with the story of the five missionaries killed by the Waodani (formerly known as "Aucas") in the eastern jungles of Ecuador. What is so interesting about "End of the Spear" is that the book fills in many of the gaps between the deaths of the five missionaries all the way up to the near present. What God has done over the years is truly a remarkable story. The book shares such details as Steve and his sister Kathy being baptized by the very men who killed their father. It also talks about Steve moving his own family to live with the Waodani and their experiences living in their midst. There are plenty of surprises in this book that make it an interesting read, even for those who are familiar with the story. I love the way Steve helps us enter into the mind and culture of the Waodani to see things from their perspective. Many of the questions that have lingered in peoples minds about what really happened are answered in "End of the Spear."

The movie version was also great. My personal impression is that its intention is to reach an audience not familiar with the story. I even sensed it was more directed toward a non-Christian audience. It wouldn't surprise me that this was Steve's intent in making this secular movie version in the first place. "End of the Spear" is such a powerful story of love for the Waodani and forgiveness that it would certainly appeal to a much broader secular audience if given a chance. I do pray that many non-believers will view this movie. I personally felt the movie did a great job at getting across the Christian message without trying to be a "Christian" movie.

If you have to choose between the book or the movie (and can't do both), go with the book. It has a lot more detail and deals with missionary life issues, Steve's personal struggles and a lot of insight into everyday events on the mission field.

Growing up in Quito, Ecuador, I went to school with several of the MKs who were speared by the Waodani back in 1956. I think I have read practically every book published on the subject, along with most of Elisabeth Elliot's books and writings on the subject over the years. Many of the names and places in these books are people and places I know personally. I am glad that this truly remarkable story has been reissued and updated for the current generations. My own life has been touched by this story in its various write-ups. In particular, Elisabeth Elliot's Shadow of the Almighty:The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot which the Lord used to affirm my own call to overseas missions.

Another must-see video/DVD is Steve Saint's documentary, Beyond The Gates of Splendor. In it are many fascinating interviews with the wives of the slain missionaries (and others), footage of the Waodani and their way of life, personal anecdotes, etc. Again, a remarkable media presentation that is very moving. I dare anyone out there to view it and not shed a tear or two!

Ken Sorrell is sending me a copy of Steve Saint's The Great Omission. I understand its focus with the issue of dependency in missions. "End of the Spear" also deals with this aspect of missions.

Have you read the book or seen the movie? What are your comments on "End of the Spear?"

Friday, September 1

Why John 11:5 is one of my favorite verses

Before looking up John 11:5 allow me to give a bit of background on why this verse is so meaningful to me...

It all started out a couple of years ago when I took one of those personality tests. The test was part of German Church Growth researcher, Christian Schwarz's "Los 3 Colores del Ministerio." The purpose of the test is to see which Bible character you most resemble and share ideas of the strengths/weaknesses of your Biblical personality type.

I was secretly hoping to test out as a "Paul" or a "Peter", or "Moses" or maybe "Joshua" or "Joseph." Three guesses as to whom I tested out as?

Did you guess MARTHA? Yes, I tested out as Martha!

Not any of my male Bible heroes, but the busy, responsible, hard-working, wanting to be in control SISTER! of Mary and Lazarus. Martha, the one who in Luke 10 was upset at Mary for not helping serve the house guests. Martha the one who met Jesus after Lazarus died and was obviously the one running all the funeral preparations. That's me.

When I first tested out as Martha, I balked, and blamed the test as faulty, and inaccurate. These tests are always kind of flimsy, anyway. Right? In desperation, I redid the test and the second time very carefully chose my answers to all the questions. Second time? Same result!

Martha isn't exactly who I wish I resembled amongst Biblical personalities, but I have resigned myself to accepting the reality that indeed I am a lot more like Martha than I would like to admit. How I have longed to be like Mary, whom Jesus commended, "...for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

But the truth is much closer to Jesus' words to Martha, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one..."

Yes, I am more like Martha than I care to admit. Those who know me best can attest to this. Always worried, intense or bothered about something. Upset with everyone else because they don't live up to my high expectations. Irritated with my Mary friends (no pun intended!) who are so happy-go-lucky while the world goes to hell... "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do ALL the serving ALONE?" That's how we Marthas' feel.

My consolation? John 11:5a... some of the sweetest words in the N.T.

Now Jesus loved Martha...

Isn't it nice to know Jesus loves us, accepts us just as we are? He even has a special place and love in his heart for all of us Marthas. After all, nothing would ever get done if it weren't for all of us Marthas out there!

Which Bible character do you identify most with? (You have permission from "Martha" to share even if you haven't taken Schwarz's Bible Personality Test!) :-)