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Written by Daniel LaValla Monday, 09 December 2013 16:46

A Missional Calling Requires Commitment to a Holistic Gospel

war on poverty

What has happened to the church’s mission to the poor in the West? While the Church’s mission to the poor has always been present, its emphasis has waned since the mid 20th century in many western countries. Why? Can the Church regain its effectiveness in sharing the Gospel while serving the poor in the West?

Welfare programs and social work efforts in Europe and the United States are deeply rooted in the Christian Church’s missions to the poor. The Roman Catholic Church in medieval times collected alms for the poor and developed a welfare network that crossed national boundaries throughout Europe. Modern day welfare and social work initiatives began with English Poor Laws and the workhouses where tax money was collected by the government, but distributed to the poor by the chaplains or almoners of local churches.

 

Written by Phil Monroe Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00

Thanksgiving is that time of year when we get together with family to enjoy good food, maybe a football game, and to be thankful for God’s provision during the past year. Sometimes, though, we don’t feel all that thankful. Yes, we recognize that God indeed has given us many good things, things like food, water, salary, housing, and the like. We acknowledge that we have no rights to demand these things. We acknowledge that there are many who are far worse off. Given recent events, we can imagine how much more blessed we are than those who suffered a direct hit from a typhoon in the Philippines.

And yet, despite our knowledge of grace and mercy, there are times when all we really notice are the broken things in our lives—our bodies, our families, our communities.

I confess this is my state this Thanksgiving. I won’t bore you with the details but I struggle to stay focused on the many good things God has given me.

   

Written by Phil Monroe Monday, 25 November 2013 00:00

Recovery? Healing? Restoration? What words do you like to use when describing the process of getting better after a traumatic experience? The words I just used convey information as well as movement. They evoke feelings about what happens after a crisis.

For those of you continue to contend with a troubled past, ponder this: How do you communicate that you are better but not so much better that you have no more bad memories; that you have no more nightmares; that you are not triggered into panic when you see someone who abused you?

What words do you shy away from?

   

Written by Todd Mangum Friday, 22 November 2013 00:00

John F. Kennedy Shooting

I don’t always cry at sad movies, but sometimes I do. I almost always cry when I’ve watched one particular movie, though — and this one less than 30 seconds long. I’m talking about the infamous “Zapruder film” that inadvertently recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

I was alive at the time, but just a baby; thus too young “to remember where I was” when I heard the news — though I understand that some sociological studies have confirmed the phenomenon that people who were old enough commonly really did remember exactly where they were when they got the news that the President of the United States had been shot. It’s testimony to the entire U.S. populace that day experiencing something like large-scale PTSD.

   

Written by Todd Mangum Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:00

Overcome Pride

I am a blessed man. That’s the truth. I have received from the Lord’s hand far more kindness and protection, more prosperity and success than I deserve. This I know. And to this I testify without qualification. 

I also work in a field in which arrogance is common.

It’s true that we train ministers at Biblical Seminary, and missional ones at that; so that the emphasis on taking up one’s cross to follow Jesus (INTO the world no less) provides subject matter that calls for sacrifice, service, and humility. 

It’s also true that a seminary is a graduate level academic institution. It’s in the academic arena where arrogance seems naturally to arise. This is the place where highly intelligent, highly accomplished people form carefully crafted critical assessments and forward sharply honed arguments. One of my mentors, a true scholar and founding faculty member at Biblical, once warned me matter-of-factly, “Arrogance is an occupational hazard of this business.”

   

Written by Todd Mangum Monday, 18 November 2013 00:00

Pride in the Gospel

Addressing — attacking! — human pride is at the very heart of the gospel. (See my last blog for my initial run at this thesis.)

This I see, but this can also scare me. Because pride is a bigger problem than we think, methinks.

Five observations that can send a little chill up my spine (how about you?) . . . :

1. God despises not just overtly proud actions but pride of heart.

Look at Proverbs 16:5, for example: “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.”  (Cf. Prov. 16:18.) So, I guess that means the Lord is allowed to make even the private thoughts one may have to oneself fair game for discipline? . . .   Eesh.  (By the way, Jesus doesn’t lighten up on this point one bit; if anything, He screws the point even tighter — see Luke 12:1-5.)

   

Written by Todd Mangum Friday, 15 November 2013 00:00

Pride in the Gospel

In a number of ways, the Lord has been confronting me recently with the problem of pride. Probably any Christian seeking to love God and who knows themselves will eventually confront the unpleasant recognition of pride lurking in the corners of their own heart. Lately, I’ve run across pointed rebukes of pride in my devotional scriptural reading, it’s surfaced in some of the teaching and preaching I’ve been preparing; and then some personal life circumstances have forced me to peer into the matter more closely and more seriously than I expected or wanted.

I’ve come to believe that pride is at the center of the gospel. And by that I mean: overcoming pride and its toxic fruit is not just one of the things addressed by the gospel. It’s at the center of why there is a gospel at all.

   

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