Thursday, August 31, 2006

Missed the Band Wagon

Yep, that's right. I missed the band wagon regarding a timely blog about the controversial chapel service at SWBTS. I did some commenting, but, quite frankly, I don't think I can add anything to what has already been said.

Except, perhaps, for this:

I address this to all believers, not just leadership, and not just SBC: Remember that we are God's ambassadors on Earth. Our job is to RECONCILE people to the Lord; not be a stumbling block. We must live our lives and conduct our business as if the whole world was watching. Every time one of us trips (Flockhart) or does something questionable (SWBTS censorship), the lost are looking at that and at how the rest of us responds to the problem. We are ALL in this together.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No disrespect intended

I respect my fellow bloggers who are much more educated than me, are better thinkers than me, and are better debaters than me. However, for me personally I would much rather talk about this Calvin:

than this one:

The main reason is this: most people whom I have contact with care more about the first than the second. True, the first is just pretend. But the second is dead. It's not that I don't understand the implications of the second, but the first one is just a whole lot more fun. Discussion of the second one seems to depress me, mostly because it turns into fruitless arguing.

(Unfortunately, I tend to identify more with the first, inasmuch as I am easily distracted and tend to spend a lot of time daydreaming.)

I like this kind a tulips:

a whole lot more than this tulip:

But that is just me. A plain ole simple small town boy who ain't very good with big words and lofty ideas. I like the poster on Ken Sorrell's blog that says "With Jesus in my heart and a Bible in my hand, I have everything I need to start a new church."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Extra-Biblical crud

Many of my missionary colleagues (anonymous and nonymous?) together with other bloggers are discussing extra-Biblical junk that is presented by our culture which gets in the way of a Christ-centered life and/or missions. The example I bring to the discussion table is miniscule in reality, but it represents the broader, deeper problem.

Last week, at a church I was attending, they had a "children's sermon" or "Kid's moment" or whatever. That part I didn't have a problem with. What concerned me was at the end, the woman who was leading this (didn't have a problem with that, either) said something to the effect of "OK, now, everyone assume their prayer posture". (That was the part I had problems with). This statement, "Prayer Posture" is extremely important in some cultures. People seem to think that they must be in a certain position or posture to be able to pray, whether it is kneeling or prostrating themselves. In this overseas Baptist sub-culture I am in, I have NEVER heard anyone talk about a "prayer posture". I think I know what she meant, that is, bow your head and close your eyes, but to ask/tell children to assume their "prayer posture" simply went over the top for me.

When I was a kid growing up in church (not a Baptist church, by the way) we all knew that you were supposed to close your eyes and bow your head to pray. But sometimes, as a kid (and maybe sometimes now) I looked around at people while they prayed. There was this one older man who closed his eyes, but he NEVER bowed his head; he ALWAYS looked up. Being the inquisitive kid, I asked him why. He said that as a kid, he was always taught to look at someone when he was in conversation with them and he assumed the Lord was up, so, he always looked up. I thought this was a little weird, but I decided that it was OK with me.

My first year on the field, a missionary who had been there a couple more years on the field mentioned that he didn't like the way I prayed. Being the inquisitive kid, I asked him why. He said that my body presentation didn't look like I was being sincere. I asked him to explain further. He said that instead of "sitting up, with my feet on the floor" I continued to sit in whatever position I was in and prayed that way. He said it looked like I didn't understand the solemness of prayer. I thanked him for sharing his feelings with me, and I thought I was quite gracious to not say much at all. I understand his point, but.....

Some of the things the Word says about prayer is to"not pray on the street corners to be seen by all, but go into your private closet"; "don't pray as the pharisee who wasn't repentant, but as the publican who beat his chest with remorse"; "don't use meaningless repetition"; and "pray without ceasing". (paraphrased missionary version PMV). I don't recall reading a portion that said that we must sit upright with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, with our feet firmly on the floor.

Am I way out of line with my thinking? Do I need to encourage others to sit or stand or kneel a certain way for their prayers to be effective? Am I taking this much too personally?

I know that there are much more important extra-biblical mal-practices, but what is your take on this? I'd really like to know.

Culture Stress

I define culture stress as "having it up to here (hands pointing to the top of your head) in dealing with your host culture". I know that isn't the MLC definition, but it works for me. (I heard they changed it to ILC; another paradigm shift?)

I am dealing with a bit of culture stress. Specifically, the bus system. Being in the country I am in, I am not afforded a vehicle by my region. I really miss having a vehicle. I don't mind taking the bus, especially since they are now (mostly) air conditioned. You can get around to anywhere on the bus, or a combination of buses. There are several different bus companies/systems in the city where I live. There is the regular bus service then a series of smaller independent type bus services. They are very convenient, but the system is hard to figure out. A few minutes ago, I tried to catch one of these smaller buses. The driver let a whole slew of passengers off his bus, but waved me off when I tried to get on. For the life of me, I can't figure out why. So, while walking on home, I was left to ponder the reasons why. I never came up with a good explanation, which leaves me with culture stress.

I think I am ready for furlough, oops, I mean Stateside Assignment (another paradigm shift).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Paradigm Shift

I am currently at a meeting with many of my colleagues. I learned that I missed yet another paradigm shift. The IMB is no longer refering to the 10/40 window as the "10/40 window", but as the "Last Frontier".

I had seen in some of the literature and stuff where they were using "Last Frontier", but I didn't realize that they weren't using "10/40 Window" anymore.

Well, tough. I happen to like the term "10/40 Window". I'll continue to use it until I get my own "pair of dimes".

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pun Intended

The picture to the right is of a Chevy Nomad. I did a google search on "nomad" and found this one. I thought it was clever. I'm not particularly a car buff, but I thought it might be a good substitute for my real picture.

Friday, August 18, 2006

What it's like: part 1

I am sometimes asked what it's like to be a missionary (mostly when I am in the US). There is nothing else on earth like it. I consider myself to be a "Servant of the Most High God". That is my calling.

To try to tell you what it is like is actually very difficult, because it is so multi-faceted. It's NOT like the Peace Corps (well, not all the time). It's NOT like the military (well, not all the time). It's NOT like Diplomatic Service (well, not all the time). It's NOT like ex-pat work (well, not all the time. It IS rewarding. It IS dangerous (at times). It IS hard. It IS easy. It IS lonely. It IS overwhelming. It IS challenging. It IS wonderful. It IS exciting. It IS frustrating. It IS stressful. It IS very stressful.

  • Rewarding: there is NOTHING in the whole world like seeing the faces of people, or an entire village receive the Gospel or a portion of the Bible in their own language for the very first time in their life.
  • Dangerous: you can take all the contingency training you like but NOTHING will prepare you to have REAL AK-47 shoved in your face. 3 days of pretending at MLC just isn't going to cut it.
  • Hard: when the kids pull out the "Grandma" card, or the grandma's pull out the "I'm missing their entire childhood" card. That is very, very hard.
  • Easy: seeing the best the world has to offer and making really great relationships and fun contacts all over the world.
  • Lonely: at times, no one seems to be able to really "connect" with you and you can feel isolated and alone, even in a city of millions.
  • Overwhelming: realizing that if you swerve the wrong way, you could send 2 or 3 dozen people screaming into eternity without the Lord. Realizing that even with a lifetime language learning, you'll ALWAYS be a foreigner, an outsider.
  • Challenging: trying to live and function in a culture that is hostile to your presence and looks at you as a threat to culture and religion. Trying to bridge that gap with the Gospel.
  • Wonderful: seeing people's lives and even whole villages change with the new knowledge of and life in the Living Word.
  • Exciting: being a part of the cutting edge of missions; knowing that what you are doing is actually making a difference for the Kingdom of God.
  • Frustrating: seeing people make bad decisions/choices which bring about a negative effect on your work, other's work, or the church in general.
  • Stressful: trying to learn yet ANOTHER language in order to make relationships, etc, knowing that the foundation that you lay in the beginning months make all the difference in years to come, but having to deal with all of the above, plus culture shock in those first few months.
  • Very Stressful: did I mention language study and culture shock? add in having a baby overseas. That'll put you right over the edge.

I love being a missionary. If I ever had to stop being a missionary, I really have no idea what I would want to do. I see it as "who I am".

I'll write more about this later.


Welcome to my blog. Sorry I can't tell you who I am, but it would present a security challenge for those I work with. I'm sure you understand.