Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This Blog has Moved

Visit the blog, redesigned at http://adamhoffman.wordpress.com

New Articles on the New Site:

1/16: "Looking for good reads"
1/14: "Christianity in India"
1/11 "Suggestions for future missionaries …"
1/9: "The Flying Man Pt 11: My Summary"
1/8: "The Flying Man Pt 10: Further Reflections by Greg Parsons"
1/7: "The Flying Man Pt 9: Rice Missions and Rice Christians by Rick Johnson"
1/6: "The Flying Man Pt 8: Raising Local Resources by Glenn Schwarts"
1/4: "The Flying Man Pt 7: Lifetime Achievement Award by Rick Wood"
1/2: "The Flying Man Pt 6: The Missing Father by Leith Gray"


12/30: "The Flying Man Pt 5: New Insights From Three Eras of Mission History by Robby Butler"
12/26: "The Bible's Role in Politics"
12/23: "The Flying Man Pt 4: How to Best Help China by Dr. Winter"
12/20: "The Flying Man Pt 3: The Legacy of Love in China by Rick Wood"
12/15: "Create International"
12/12: "The Flying Man Pt 2 - “Eric Liddell: The Flying Man - Mark Harris"
12/7: "Reflections from Buddhist Temples"
12/5: "The Flying Man Pt 1 - Dr. Winter's editorial"
12/2: "Mission Frontier's Magazine: The Flying Man"
11/25: "USCWM Community"
11/19: "Upcoming Reading: From Seed to Fruit"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

INSIGHT Fall Retreat Recap

What a great time! We had an amazing time in the mountains of California. First off, these are real mountains. Mountains have cliffs, valleys and elevation. North Carolina has large rolling hills. You are driving in the hills, and they just get bigger. In California, you look straight up, make a turn and then you drive up. “Wow, Mountain!” Crazy I know. Also NC is spread out geographically. Where we live in Pasadena is an hour from the beach and two hours from the mountains.

Back to the retreat. We had 3 days and 2 nights with non-stop action with the students. Melissa and I even split up and stayed with the students instead of sleeping in the same bed/house. We had a lot of down time of random deep conversation. We debated the ethics and morality of enjoying food, economic theory, and watched philosophical anime.

The weekend was based off a definition of the “Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of God is the people of God called to live under the reign of God in order to fulfill the purposes of God. We took the first part of the definition and applied it to this weekend. For our spring retreat, we will talk about fulfilling the purposes of God, strategy and mobilization.

For this retreat, we really focused in on personal discipleship in key college areas: identity, cross-gender relationships, and gender specific issues. These conversations were lead by staff but less program oriented and freer flowing. The students seemed impacted by many of the self-discoveries they had as well as our staff's past experiences with these issues (the good and the bad).

We spent so much concentrated time together, being a community, cooking and cleaning together, riding in the car. It was a great opportunity for us as staff to get to know the students on a deeper level and build trust with them.

Melissa meets with half the girls and I meet with half the guys once a week as a small group to talk over issues and have prayer and accountability. The weekend brought out some things the students were hiding in the darkness that we as a group can bring to the light to let Christ's glory deal with.

Overall it was a great weekend. We are looking forward to the spring retreat already.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Latest Mission Frontiers Magazine

So over the 10 hours of traveling from Ohio back to California I was able to read the recent Mission Frontiers issue with the title “Iranian Revolution.” How encouraging it was to read of the rapid growth the indigenous church is experiencing in the midst of extreme persecution and trials. It was especially heart-warming to read that this growth had started decades ago and is continuing on despite major set backs (namely the assignation of major church leaders by the Iranian government). Broadcasts featuring Jesus are being watched by Persians through satellite. In a survey, 70% of Iranian families said they watched Christian satellite programs. The house church movement is spreading incredibly rapidly. "Within two years, a new believer is expected to become a leader of a new house fellowship and a discipler of new leaders." Praise be to God for expanding His kingdom without the influence of outside help.

What an interesting perspective gleaned from reading the article titled “Mustafa”. First I thought of the Lion King and couldn’t help saying “Mustafa” over and over again in my best hyena voice. In all seriousness, I thought it was a well-done interpretation of experiences with Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) and how difficult it is for “Christians” to accept followers of Christ who still carry their Muslim culture and heritage. I think this carries into the extreme importance of the C4 – C5 debate. How do you as a missionary separate culture and religion? These issues are huge for mission agencies and what they support. Its going on now that American mission agencies are stifling the growth of MBB churches because they don't see them as fully following Christ.

Continuing this theme of religion and culture, there is a good article on using the name “Allah” contextually for Muslims the same as we use God. Is it syncretism for Allah and God to be one of the same? Are we creating an unnecessary barrier to the gospel by introducing a foreign substituted word to mean God? The article does a great job of examining the word itself as well as looking at some of our own “Christian” words under the same scrutiny. Examples of our words that may not come from the best grounds are the days of the week. Most of the days of the week are named after different Anglo-Saxon gods. Monday was named after Muna, the moon god and Wednesday was named after the god Woden. Some denominations wouldn't even refer to these days of the week; instead they used first day, second day ... All this to say, contextualization is key to unleashing the Bible's power. The article qutoes Lamin Sanneh, a Yale scholar saying, "in the relevant cases Christian expansion and revival were limited to those societies that preserved the indigineous name for God." The power of the gospel is found in the ability to communicate its message to people in thier heart language, in a way that is culutrally relevant to them. After they have heard & understood, then can the wrong attributes and shallow view of God can be corrected.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Trends in the North American Missions Movement

Friday morning we had a seminar from Michael Jaffarian. He is a global mission researcher and collaborates on Operation World as well as the Mission Handbook. He revealed a couple of interesting statistics this morning that I wanted to pass along. (Note: data was taken 2005).

  • In the U.S. & Canada, there are 822 agencies who receive $6 billion annually. While this is a lot of money, $15 billion is spent on pet products and $50 billion is spent on toiletries and cosmetics.

Numbers of North American missionary involvement:
  • 43,000 long term missionaries (those whose length of service is expected to be more than four years)
  • 8,000 middle term missionaries (those whose length of service is from one to four years)
  • 150,000 short term missionaries (those whose length of service is from two weeks up to one year)
  • 1.5 million mission-trip participants (those whose length of service is up to two weeks; as opposed to other missionaries, this category contains mainly those who go through a local church and not necessarily through a mission agency)
  • Noted that strong growth in mission-trip participants and short term missionaries has not yielded increase long term missionaries

Agency Focus
  • For every mission agency mainly devoted to relief/development (DEV), there are about five devoted to evangelism/discipleship (EVG)
  • 18 to 1 ratio of missionary sent through agencies focus on EVG rather than DEV
  • Total money donated to DEV mission agencies greater than total money donated to EVG mission agencies.
  • Seven out of the top ten and four out of the top five largest American mission agencies (by income) are DEV
  • Income growth between 2001 - 2005:
    -  EVG: 2.7%
    -  DEV: 74.3%

  • Noted rapid growth in national workers financially supported by North American mission agency dollars
  • Now for every American missionary sent and supported, there are two national workers being supported


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our Vision: College Mobilization and INSIGHT

Our vision is to open people’s eyes to what God is doing in the World and help them find their strategic part in reaching the Nations with the Gospel. We believe that College Students are the most strategic group of people to mobilize to missions.

Four reasons College Students are the most strategic audience:

College Students are Seeking Answers

College is a time where you seek answers to all of life’s important questions. Most Christian students are specifically wrestling with the question of what to do with their life in light of their faith. Our desire is to build a foundation focused on missions and God’s Glory. We know that if we can instill a desire to see God glorified in students’ lives, then this will guide them as they make these important decisions.

Everyone has a strategic part to play in reaching the nations with the gospel, not only those who decide to serve overseas. No matter what Major students choose, with an understanding of God’s desire to be glorified in all the earth, they will make the most of the talents that God has given them. Lawyers and Doctors will strategically invest in missionaries serving amongst the unreached. Computer engineers will design computer programs to help with bible translation. Entrepreneurs will take their talents into the third-world and teach families how to create a viable business. CEO’s will train missionaries on how to partner with international leaders. There is not limit to the impact college students can have on the world if they understand that they have a strategic part to play.

College Students are Visionaries

Students are visionaries, dreamers, they think big and believe that they can change the world, and by the power of God they can! They are also a little fickle, and if these dreams are not encouraged or guided they will die out. By giving students a foundation of God’s purpose in the world, they will begin to dream of His desires being fulfilled, and these are dreams that make a difference.

We also see power in mentoring college students. Having someone walk beside them, believe in them, and giving them guidance will help them reach their goals. Many students will catch the vision for missions, but few will actually take a strategic role. Students get distracted easily with the next new thing. Mentoring and getting them in contact with other mission minded students is away to keep them on track and fuel their vision.

College Students are Living in a Global Society

Universities pride themselves on cultural diversity, brining in students and professors from all over the world. Most College students are living in a true global society, interacting daily with people outside their own culture. They understand the importance of valuing someone else’s culture and traditions. This atmosphere with out biblical guidance can very easily create universalists, but with the right understanding these global students have a knowledge of the world that is priceless to the mission enterprise.

And of top of that, there are students from unreached people groups and closed countries studying on American Campuses. If we can mobilize Christian students to reach out to internationals on their campus, teach them to follow Christ and pass on their vision to see their people and all nations glorifying God, they would be sending missionaries into some of the darkest parts of the world, where they themselves may never be allowed to go. Praise God this is a need and an opportunity to make a major impact on the world!

College Students are Transients

The point of focusing on college mobilization is to get people strategically involved with what God is doing in the world as early as possible. Everyone needs this vital information, but most of us have already made patterns in our lives that make it hard to change our lifestyles. College Students are just forming those patterns. By sharing with them God’s ultimate desire to see people from every nation come to know Him and how they can have a strategic part in making that happen, the patterns they form will lead them to a life strategically involved in God’s global purposes.

Students are on their way to somewhere else. They are uncommitted and not tied down to a family, bills, career, etc. They have entire summers off, this is the perfect time for them to go overseas and gain exposure to the world of missions. Not all of them will go to the field full-time, but the experience will give them power. They will set patterns now in finances, ethics, relationships, that will stay with them for a lifetime. We want students to make these decisions based on their strategic involvement in God’s global purposes. So wherever they go after college they are focused on seeing God’s glory in all the earth. The greatest part of working with college students is that Universities are a revolving door, you get to send Global Christians out into the world every year, and then they are replaced by a whole new group ready to learn.

So how does INSIGHT fit in to this vision?

“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Proverbs 19:2

INSIGHT is a one-year college program developed to give students an understanding of God’s Glory and His purposes throughout history. Throughout the unfolding of the curriculum, topics in anthropology, comparative religions, philosophy, theology, the Bible, politics, and developments in church, mission, and world history are purposefully interwoven to give students a broad, integrated understanding of the interrelatedness of subjects. After taking INSIGHT, students have a mental filing system for how their future college classes fit together, and how it is all part of the larger story of God and man.

The heartbeat of INSIGHT is unmistakably mission. The themes of the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course run throughout the curriculum and are revisited and reinforced at multiple levels. Students are exposed to the Biblical basis for mission, mission history, principles of anthropology and cross-cultural communication, and current issues in mission strategy. Students leave INSIGHT with the Bible and mission academic background of a missionary candidate, an intellectual foundation for their faith, and with a year of college credit. This program is an amazing tool for mobilizing college students to missions. With this foundation these students will know the importance and urgency of reaching the nations with the Gospel and how they have a strategic part to play.

Our time with the U.S Center for World Mission in Pasadena will be spent investing in the INSIGHT program and more importantly the students. We are excited to get to know this small group of students and see how God is going to work in their lives. With the strategic nature of this course in mind, we are also working to expand this program to other locations across the country and around the world. Students need this information and INSIGHT is a great tool that any church or NGO could use to impact college students in their area. We are excited to learn and grow in this program and see how God is going to use it to mobilize an entire generation to see his glory throughout the earth!

To put it all together…

We are looking for the most strategic ways to fulfill the vision God has given us. We have found the audience, some great tools, now for the location.

We do not believe in coincidence, but it the great work of our Lord. Before moving to California we had been living in the Raleigh Durham area of North Carolina. There could not be a more strategic place to do college ministry. Within a 30-mile radius of the Southeast office of the USCWM there are 11 colleges/universities totaling at over 75,000 undergraduate students! These schools have vibrant campus ministries and there are several large churches focusing on college students. By partnering with these ministries and churches we can equip college students to get strategically involved in reaching the nations with the Gospel.

INSIGHT will be one of many tools that we will bring back to the Raleigh Durham area. Our hope is to run INSIGHT at a local church as well as spend as much time as possible on campuses networking with college pastors, and hanging out with students. There are so many dreams and ideas running in our heads, we cannot wait to see what God is going to do on these campuses for His Glory.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Models of Missionary Training

In America and Europe, we train our professional ministers in a very Western way: seminaries. Seminaries are a great place to learn theology and to study academic issues in the Christian faith. But are they the best way to train ministers to bring people to faith and grow others in their walks with Christ?

How many seminary graduates are there who go to the mission field completely unprepared for what they will face in another culture, dealing with learning a new language, not being able to communicate, culture shock, facing persecution and leaving everything that was comfortable? Yes these students should be able to explain eschatology and transubstantiation, but can they effectively contextualize the essence of the gospel? Sure they have training in the books of the bible but what has their evangelistic lives looked like? Most can debate theology amongst themselves, but how comfortable are they with sharing the message freely on the streets?

A national movement in India began this way and found that they attracted more visionless Christians without direction and motivation rather than passionate followers of Christ who long to see His people come to know Him. They switched to a new model in church planting, one that looks more like in Acts. Church planting happened through discipleship and informal training. This style of preparation put a priority on field training, getting church planters involved in the communities with the people. Theological training would be brought to them so they wouldn’t have to leave their ministry post for weeks or months at a time. The key is that they did not leave their culture to be taught heady knowledge, but were supervised in practical situations. They found churches grew faster under this informal model, and theology did not sway.

Now is it the job of the seminary or the job of the mission agency to train future missionaries? I believe it is definitely the responsibility of the mission agency to prepare and make sure candidates are ready for the field, but I also believe a practical side of a mission degree would be effective. The Baptist seminaries two plus two program with the IMB is on the right tract. They spend two years in seminary learning theology, biblical languages and anthropology, and then two years on the field guided by a career missionary. Another bonus is that intermitted throughout the field experience, they come together for analysis and debriefing. For seminary programs that send future missionaries, practical on the field experience is important and should be a part of the program.

This brings me to a final issue: why is mission education is not a major part of a seminary degree? How many seminary trained pastors go through their studies without learning about God’s heart for the nation and the state of His Kingdom? Pastors should be Christ’s body’s largest mobilizers to help God’s people understand that unreached peoples are the most strategic field there is. Missions is not a ministry of the church, but the purpose for the church’s existence. It is of utmost importance for our pastors to teach the biblical basis of missions and call out members of their church for overseas service.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Frontier vs. Regular Part 2

Last entry we worked through some definitions and gave some statistics. I wanted to lend my thoughts on the implications of Frontier vs. Regular and what missions means.

I mentioned that the word missions is far too over used. I would go on to say that the word is so over used that it looses its meaning. No one is going to say that their mission is useless and no one is going to condemn another when the generalized term is used to gain approval. Using the previous definitions and the knowledge of the state of the world we must re-gain our focus and really do missions. All of those other "missions" are good, but in order to see that all peoples have a chance to hear and respond to the gospel, we must focus our efforts on those areas completely without access to the gospel.

The question is of strategy. Should we keep sending our resources (people, money, prayer, ect) to places where the gospel is planted and where individuals have an opportunity to explore the scriptures and have someone walk with them the path of faith, or would it be best to send these resources to places that have no witness at all? If I had a dirty house with 10 rooms would I get together all of my friends and spend all of my money just to clean 6 of those rooms over and over and over again, leaving the other 4 rooms dirty? NO, that would make me a bad steward of my house, and I wouldn't be able to say the house as a whole was clean.

So too with missions. We put so many resources into certain areas, completely neglecting the need for Christ throughout the world. Evangelism is great. We are all supposed to be a part of it. There are not those who are called not to share their faith. Evangelism is not a special calling that you have but a gifting of the Holy Spirit from re-birth. Evangelism should not soften the word missions.

How many new followers to Christ are there everyday in America? In China, about 30,000 people are coming to Christ daily. Can you imagine the impact more resources would have on this place. There are still so many who have not been presented the gospel. Most people in America have heard the gospel, but world-wide, last year alone, 120 million people were presented the gospel for the first time ever. Can you believe that there are that many people today who have not heard the gospel, and that was just one year of first encounters with the Truth.

I hear all the time, "Our mission is right here in the U.S." Let me preface the remainder of this discussion that God is God and He can call anyone to any task he has, no questions asked. Basically, God can call us to the U.S. for a purpose and that is fine. I think many people use that statement as an excuse. We are all called to witness where we are located, in the communities we are a part. The types of ministries we do here is a strategic choice based God's gifts. We are not supposed to stay here because it is comfortable or because God has a special calling for us away from these unreached people groups. You can't stay here unless you are willing to go, but you can't go unless you are willing to stay. We are all to have a part in the Great Commission. It is a commission for all of us who given our lives to Christ. The question is not does God want me to be involved in spreading his Word throughout the world, but how does He want me to be involved?

So, is it bad for Christians to stay in America? NO, but even those who aren't called to go overseas should be involved in the kingdom spreading to those who don't have access to it. Those who stay aren't doing something else, they are still focused on the unreached and having a huge part of the behind the scenes work. We've come up with a list of different roles on how to be involved with frontier missions, only 2 of the 11 are actually leaving the U.S.

I leave you again with the words of the greatest missionary:

"For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!' But they have not all obeyed the gospel. "
-Romans 10:13-16


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Frontier vs. Regular

Missions is a term that can be thrown around easily. Missions is now exchanged for the term "evangelism" and "outreach". Missions is a budget in the church that goes far too wide and far too shallow. Missions is not just a sector or ministry in the church. Missions IS the purpose of the church. As the church universal we are commanded to take the gospel to where it is currently not. The reason for and the purpose of the church is to worship Christ with everything and bring more worshipers to Christ. It is out of God's passion for His glory that missions exists (read John Piper's "Let the Nations Be Glad." )

A few years back I had thought the division was between lost and saved people here and around the world, and the church just gets people to come to Him wherever they are. The first time I heard about Christ was when I was 15. I knew where churches were, I just wasn't interested to find out what they were all about. I thought that is how it is all over, churches out there but individuals decide to go or not.

I never realized that there were whole groups of people separated from God, who have no access to His gospel. I found out that there were places where there were no churches. That there were places that people didn't have the bible translated in their language, places where people are actively searching for someone to tell them the greatest story told, but no one has ever told them. This changed everything.

Missiologists have termed it reached and unreached. Come to find out there are whole sectors of culture termed people groups that are characterized by this reached and unreached zones.

Based on this, here are some definitions:
"missions" that is within our country is called evangelism
"missions" outside our country that is among reached peoples is regular missions
"missions" outside our country that is among unreached peoples is frontier missions

Here are some statistics to make things more real:
  • There are an estimated 24,000 people groups
  • 10,000 of these are considered unreached (most located in 10/40 window)
  • Of our mission personnel, 85% serve in regular missions while only 15% serve in frontier areas
  • Of our finances, 95% of our church dollars goes straight back to us, sending 5% out to missions out side of our country
    • of our missions budget, 90% goes to regular missions with only 10% going to frontier missions
    • Totaled: 99.5% of our money goes to reached areas where people have access to the gospel while 0.5% goes to places that otherwise have no opportunity to hear
I think the church needs to put a little more thought as to what missions is, and what our focus should be. Of course all of these areas are good targets for ministry, but if we are going to focus on missions lets truly and strategically put our efforts into completing the Great Commission.

I leave you with the words of the greatest missionary:

"thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, 'Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand."
-Romans 15:20-21


Monday, December 24, 2007

Hebrews as a bridge

These reflections come from Gareth Lee Cockrill's book titled "Guidebook for Pilgrims to the Heavenly City"

Have you ever thought of using the book of Hebrews to bridge a Muslim's Hajj? Guidebook for Pilgrims to the Heavenly City does just that. The author of Hebrews uses language and analogies for a journey, or reaching a city (The New Jerusalem, Heaven). What a great way to attract people whose tradition compels them to take such a journey. This method is unique, because it so easily contextualizes the entire book of Hebrews into the Islamic culture. Cockrill's rendition of this bridge is written primarily to an audience bent on one day going to Mecca, or have already taken the Hajj. Here is a short overview; use this to be intrigued, but read the book if you want to use the strategy.

Part One: The Pilgrim Road (Hebrews 10:32 - 12:29)

Introduction to Part One
(Hebrews 10:32-39)
This section of Hebrews clearly describes the life of faith as a pilgrimage to heaven. The writer of Hebrews assumes that we are asking the question, "Why should we continue in this pilgrimage when we face suffering?" Introduces Part One

Called to be a Pilgrim (Hebrews 11:1-22)
True pilgrims trust God's promises of future blessing and believe that He is active in their daily lives. By his example Abraham calls us to have this faith and make our pilgrimage to the Heavenly City. From his life we learn that pilgrimage means leaving the things of this world and pursuing the heavenly goal. Like Abraham we may face opposition, but it is vital that we persevere to the end of our journey.

Endure Suffering (Hebrews 11:23-40)
Moses, like Abraham, was a pilgrim to the Heavenly City. Since Moses was willing to leave the horded treasures of Egypt for the eternal homeland, he reminds us of the unsurpassed value of our destination. His courage in face of opposition inspires us to be courageous . God's deliverance of many encourages us to persevere. Our resolve is strengthened by remembering those faithful pilgrims who have had to suffer persecution and death for their faith. We know that victory will be theirs in the resurrection. Because of Jesus the Messiah our resources are much greater than theirs.

Follow Your Guide (Hebrews 12:1-17)
Jesus is both the founder of this pilgrimage and our mutawwif [guide] along the way. By his suffering he has opened the way for us to enter the Heavenly City. By keeping our gaze on him we are strengthened to meet the challenges of the pilgrim way. Indeed, suffering is a mark of the true pilgrim. God uses this suffering to train His faithful pilgrims and prepare them for His blessing just as a loving father disciplines his beloved children. We must not let suffering turn us away from the great blessings that are within our reach.

At the Mount of Mercy (Hebrews 12:18-29)
Through what Jesus has done for us we are able to through prayer and worship to enter the Heavenly City and stand joyfully in God's presence with the angels around His throne. For us that City is on the Mount of God's Mercy. Those who have rejected Jesus the Messiah stand in condemnation before the Mount of Judgment. Just as those who stand at the Plain of Arafat on the 9th of Dhu-l-Hajjah anticipate the Judgment Day, so our present experience at God's Mount of Mercy anticipates the mercy we will receive on that Day if we do not shrink back from following Jesus

Part Two: The Pilgrim's Helper
(Hebrews 1:1 - 12:29)

Introduction to Part Two (Hebrews 5:11 - 6:20)
This part of Hebrews explains in greater depth the significance of Jesus as the founder of the Pilgrimage to the Heavenly City and as mutawwif along the way. It shows us how Jesus and Jesus alone is the one who enables us to reach our destination. The writer of Hebrews prepares his readers for his teaching about Jesus' High Priesthood, which they found difficult or objectionable. Gives special attention to the reality of his death and resurrection and the significance of his being called "Son."

Around the Ka'bah (Hebrews 1:1 - 2:4)
Pilgrims to Mecca anticipate the time when they will gaze on the Ka'bah. For them it is the point of contact between heaven and earth. Jesus is the Ka'bah or focal point of heavenly contact for pilgrims to the Heavenly City. He is God's embodied Eternal Word and thus brings us a revelation that fulfills and surpasses all revelations given through prophets and angels. It is vital that we remain loyal to what God has revealed for us in Jesus.

The First Pilgrim (Hebrews 2:5-18, 4:14 - 5:10)
By the "Great Pilgrimage" of 632 A.D. Muhammad established the pattern of pilgrimage to Mecca. In 622 he left the city only to return victoriously in 630 and open the way for pilgrims. God's Eternal Word has opened the way to the Heavenly City by what was surely a "Great Pilgrimage." According to the will of God he established this pilgrimage by leaving the Heavenly City, becoming a human being and offering himself for the sins of all humanity before returning in triumph to the Heavenly Homeland. By his offering he freed us from the impurity of sin which kept us from God's presence and liberated us from the fear of condemnation on the Day of Judgment. Thus he is our High Priest who invites us into the God's holy presence and fulfills the picture of High Priesthood which God has given in the Tawrah of Moses.

The Apostle of God and the Pilgrims who Rebelled (Hebrews 3:1 - 4:13)
Jesus is the Apostle or Rasul of God because he has brought the final revelation of God and because he leads us into the promised Heavenly Homeland. He is as much superior to Moses, the great prophet and apostle with whom God spoke so intimately, as "the maker of a house is greater than the house." Thus if the people who followed Moses failed to enter the "rest" of God's Eternal City because they refused to trust God's power and promises, how much more will we fail if we do not obey in faith? Let us be diligent to enter because the Heavenly City they sought is still available to those who trust and obey. God holds us accountable.

An Intercessor Before the Day of Judgment (Hebrews 7:1-28)
Even now Jesus sits at God's right hand as our Intercessor who cleanses us from sin, brings us into God's presence, and mediates to us the grace we need to be faithful pilgrims. He can do this because he is a "priest according to the order of Melchizadek." As the obedient embodied Eternal Word of God he has replaced the Mosaic priesthood of sinful, mortal men. Since his High Priesthood is backed by God's oath, he can guarantee us perpetual access into God's presence. Since he is eternal he can completely deliver us from sin. He is exactly the kind of High Priest we need and we are invited to draw near to God through him every day of our pilgrimage.

The Feast of Sacrifice (Hebrews 8:1 - 10:18)
Discusses the themes of sanctuary, sacrifice, and covenant. Jesus' sacrifice is superior because it alone provides access to the true heavenly sanctuary and establishes the new and adequate covenant. Thus pilgrims to the Heavenly City have three reasons to rejoice in the sacrifice of God's Eternal Word embodied in Jesus. First, through his perfect obedience and willing sacrifice of himself he has cleansed us of the impurity of sin. Second, by this cleansing he has established a new covenant or din in which our sins are forgiven and we are given obedient hearts. Third he has opened the way for the purified people of this new covenant to enter the presence of God in heaven. No animal sacrifice was sufficient. Only the willingly self-offering of Jesus in perfect obedience to God was adequate for our sin. He expressed this obedience in his talbiya: "Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God."

Stoning the Devil (Hebrews 10:19-31)
Pilgrims to Mecca attest their determination to resist temptation by stoning the three pillars that represent Satan's temptation of Abraham in the valley of Mina. Pilgrims to the Heavenly City are invited to take refuge from Satan and his temptations by drawing near to God through the sacrifice of Jesus. He has opened a "new and living" way into God's presence by cleansing us from sin within and without. He welcomes them when they enter. They are to be unswerving in their pilgrimage and encourage one another because Jesus their High Priest is faithful. This passage closes with a solemn reminder that anyone who professes to experience the blessings of Christ and then turns away will suffer eternal separation from God.

Conclusion: The Way of Ihram (Hebrews 13:1-25)
Hebrews concludes with instructions on how to live in the state of heart ihram provided by Jesus. This purity is not a matter of rituals or of keeping a number of rules. It is the offering of two sacrifices--praise to God and doing good and sharing with others. We do good by sharing with both friends and strangers, helping those in need, being sexually pure, and by being generous and relying on God to supply our needs. We praise God by confessing our loyalty to Jesus and identifying with those who worship him. Hebrews ends with a blessing that the God who raised the Lord Jesus, our caring Shepherd, will bring us to the end of our pilgrimage.

- Taken from Appendix Two: A Quick Reference (pp.171 - 175)

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Career Defing Crisis in Mission by Paul Keidel Review

Keidel's book brought up a lot of issues to think about. I enjoyed it so much that I made an outline of it so I could quick reference it. Let me know if you want me to send you the outline. So here are some thoughts on Keidel's book.

The first two chapters re-iterated thoughts I had already had, and information that I had been exposed to. I think those chapters (Language and Culture) are critical to people beginning their journey. I thought the next few chapter really broke down the missionary process (Telling the Story, Deciding for Christ) and brought out key debates (Social Gospel). I really enjoyed questioning the "three self model" (The Crisis of an Indigenous Church). Keidel flips these on their heads and showed their purpose, but inadequacy. I really enjoyed the cultural sensitivity, about transferring the power of the gospel into their cultural appropriate equivalences. The issues he raised about dependency (financially and dependent on the missionary). I liked in the end how he focused on the power of the gospel in our lives (as missionaries) and the clash of doing vs. being (in Christ).

I know that was general, I'd love to continue the conversation about specific thoughts/issues.

Allow me time to re-read it and think over the three self model and I'll add thoughts to it

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