Unfortunately, it has become politically incorrect in our Christian culture to discuss failing mission methods because they might reflect negatively on what another organization or another missionary is doing.
The author of Revelation sides with the poor and oppressed majority. he not only sharply criticizes the community of Laodicea, which boasts of its riches, but he also repeatedly announces judgment and destruction for the world’s rich and powerful (6:12-17; 17:4; 18:3, 15-19, 23). Conversely, the two communities of Smyrna and Philadelphia, which are poor and lacking in power, receive no prophetic censure.
Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Revelation: Vision of a Just World, p. 100. (via scottxstephens)
It is easy to love those who live far away. It is not always easy to love those who live right next to us. It is easier to offer a dish of rice to meet the hunger of a needy person than to comfort the loneliness and the anguish of someone in our own home who does not feel loved.
When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and I wouldn’t go to the churches and Gospel Halls; … I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.
John, along with the communities, both participates in the eschatological power of God’s and Christ’s royal reign and shares as a partner in God’s empire even in the present. Christians, already appointed in baptism as representatives of God’s kingdom or empire, however, will exercise their royal power only in the eschatological future. This is the reason why the power of Satan which stands behind the world-empire of Rome will necessarily lead to violent actions against those Christians who are loyal to the empire of God. In Revelation, power confronts power and empire confronts empire. Compromise is not possible.
Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Revelation: Vision of a Just World, p. 50. (via scottxstephens)
Avoid being scornful, both to others and to yourself. What seems to you bad within you will grow purer from the very fact of your observing it in yourself. Avoid fear, too, though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-heartedness in attaining love. Don’t be frightened overmuch even at your evil actions. I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labour and fortitude, and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science. But I predict that just when you see with horror that in spite of all your efforts you are getting farther from your goal instead of nearer to it — at that very moment I predict that you will reach it and behold clearly the miraculous power of the Lord who has been all the time loving and mysteriously guiding you.
the North American church must move•from being primarily doers to primarily equippers•from being in charge to being equal partners•from ownership and control to “We own nothing, control nothing and count nothing as our own”•from Western missionaries to global missionaries•from unhealthy dependencies to indigenous self-sufficiency and the promotion of dignity•from competition to cooperation (from an emphasis on “my” brand to a focus on “his” brand)•from agency-based missions to church-agency synergy
When I came back to church after a faith crisis in my early 20s, the first one I attended regularly was a place called Praxis. It was the kind of church where the young, hip pastor hoisted an infant into his arms and said with sincerity, “Dude, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
The entire service had an air of informality. We sat in folding chairs, sang rock-anthem praise and took clergy-free, buffet-style communion. Once a month, the pastor would point to a table at the back of the open-rafter sanctuary and invite us to “serve ourselves” if we felt so compelled.
For two years, my husband and I attended Praxis while he did graduate work at Arizona State University and I worked as a documentary producer. As someone who had defected from the church at age 23, I thought it was the perfect place for me: a young, urban church located four blocks from Casey Moore’s Irish Pub, an unchurchy church with a mix of sacred tradition and secular trend.
Years ago, someone told me that humility is central to the spiritual life. That made sense to me: I was proud to think of myself as humble! But this person did not tell me that the path to humility, for some of us at least, goes through humiliation, where we are brought low, rendered powerless, stripped of pretenses and defenses, and left feeling fraudulent, empty, and useless—a humiliation that allows us to regrow our lives from the ground up …
Thomas is quite different from Mary. No tears; just stubborn resistance. He demands evidence. He wants to see, to touch. Thomas stands for so many in our culture who still ask, with the Enlightenment (though of course the impetus is much older) ‘But is it true?’ He doesn’t want to live in the imagined fantasy-world of someone else’s story. Reality or nothing for him – and fair enough, since Israel’s God is the creator and Israel’s hope is for the renewal of creation, not for an escape from creation into an imagined world of fantasy. And Jesus meets Thomas fair and square. He doesn’t say, as some theologians today would say, ‘No, Thomas, you’re coming at it the wrong way; we don’t do scientific evidence here, you need a different epistemology.’ Yes, there is a gentle but firm rebuke: Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe. But this only comes after Jesus has first offered Thomas his hands and his side. Evidence you want? Evidence you shall have. We are not told, however, that Thomas did actually reach out his hand to touch. Instead, he takes a flying leap past anything the others had yet said. Sometimes it is the doubters who, when convinced, become the most insightful. ‘My Lord and my God!’ It is the climax of the gospel; and I invite you to reflect on the fact that it might not have happened this way had Thomas not asked his question. I see there at least the beginnings of a parable about the nature of knowledge, of all knowledge, in our own day.
98 year old dobri dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war, walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.
though a well known fixture around several of the city’s chruches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying bulgarian monasteries and churches and the utility bills of orphanages, living instead off his monthly state pension of 80 euros.