As people begin to hear these new stories that affirm divine intention in creation and redemption, new possibilities arise. Maybe the fatalism their worldview demands is not the only option. Maybe the world did not come into existence by accidental forces. Maybe life can become more fruitful by journeying within this story.
Too often those who know the Biblical answer to the question, “What is truth?” get excited or impatient at this crucial point. We want to hurry these sojourners to the destination. We start to distill the story down to a summary and want them to accept reality upon the weight of our testimony. We want them to believe. Please, slow down and reconsider.
Will you always be there to hear these stories and choose how these people should live? Do you want their faith to rest on the foundation of your investigations of truth? Would it be better if they discover for themselves?
No, I am not going to tell you to butt out and leave them alone. But I am going to advise you to practice some restraint. Trust Papa God. Trust the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. Trust the hunger in their spirits to be “fed” by the bread of life!
Encourage them in a discovery process! Learn to rely on God and not yourself. Remember, these stories have to become their story. They have to see themselves within this journey to come to see how God really views them!
When we first encounter a people group, we learn about them through their actions—the words they speak, the way they treat others, and their responses to the things that happen around them.
What they do—their behavior—gives us insight into their worldview. Their behavior around special times like the birth of a child, rites of passage, marriage and death are especially reflective of their worldview.
While some actions can lose their connections to values over time, there are others that continue to be directed by and reinforce deeply held values, beliefs and one’s worldview. For example, common greetings historically grew out of worldview. But over generations, many using these no longer have any sense of connection. They have become empty traditions.
Too often, missionaries of the past focused great attention on actions that were dubbed “Christian.” Calling people to imitate the behavior that is important back home, may actually encourage syncretism. Here a thin veneer of “Christian” behavior camouflages an unchanged worldview.
Certain behaviors are clearly antithetical to a biblical worldview (for example, idolatry). Others are not and can be adopted for the sake of winning people to Christ. Another category may have to be adapted to intentionally prompt spiritual discussions.
Next week we will consider the values we hold which shape our actions.
[NOTE: Diagram comes from Lloyd E. Kwast’s article “Understanding Culture,” pages 397-399 in the 2009 Perspectives Reader, which was edited by Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthore.]
Maybe I am close to being over jet lag. Spending a week where the time is twelve hours different than your home really messes with your biological clock. While I have been fairly productive, my thinking has not been clear enough to do much writing. So enough excuses, here’s one blog for the week:
Early in June I was introducing the oral Discovery Bible Study format to a house church group. The challenge was question # 8, “Which of the struggles mentioned earlier could we as a group do something to help one of us?” The problem was that the people in this group do not see each other much outside of their Tuesday night meetings. Some were even absent that night, and one was present through Skype, from his work. What can we do to minister to one of the group members?
One participant had shared that she needed a new job, and then she said, “What I really need is a better attitude about the job I have.” Another reminded the first one how excited she had been when she first got this job. We worked through the rest of the questions and the passage we studied and then came to number 8.
After I asked the question, the group reviewed what those challenges were that had been shared earlier. No one had a suggestion. Finally I asked the person who needed a new attitude if she could receive texts during work. She said, “Yes!” I proposed we all agree to text her each work day during the next week. Our texts were to encourage her to have a positive attitude about her work. All agreed to give it a try.
Five months later I still send out texts most work days. The original recipient of those texts is now a member of a six-person group. Most days my text is a verse that calls us to remember God’s character and the ways he blesses us. Last week I was unable to text because of being out of the country—I missed it. But that group was praying for me during my travels. God has knit our hearts together through this attempt to minister to one another. How are you putting what you learn into practice?
Today I just finished sharing the final verse from Psalm 145. This passage contains many powerful reminders of God’s goodness. It contains many calls to praise him and tell others of his deeds. Maybe you know a group of people to whom you could send such a text. Let’s take seriously the biblical call to encourage one another!
Small Group DBSs
During the last four days I spent time with 700+ university students at the Global Mission Experience. It was hosted by Harding University this year and was held at Camp Tahkodah and at HUT. Here is the link to a one-minute trailer that was prepared for it:
It was great to introduce these young people to Discovery Bible Studies. On Friday they worked through Luke 10:1-20 in small groups of 4-5. On Saturday those who returned watched a skit that dramatized what an attempt to find a Person of Peace might look like in a resistant community. Then they did another small group DBS looking at Deuteronomy 6:1-10.
Pray that several of these students will start Discovery groups on their respective campuses. These students came from across the U.S. and it is exciting to think about what God may do through them.
Our fast-paced, disconnected-from-extended-family lives challenge obedient living. Even our friendships are often far-flung and limited by our schedules. In the DBS trainings I have done lately, I have been struck by this challenge. How will this group minister to one of the challenges they have shared? How can we take concrete actions that will bless one another?
One month ago I was encouraging a house church group to consider using the 8-Question oral DBS format. As we approached the last question, “How can we help with one of the challenges mentioned earlier?” I was concerned. There were five us us gathered that night, and one of them is an EMT who was present via Skype. None of the group worked together. How was the whole group going to practice service?
One participant had shared that she needed a new job, but more than that, she needed a new attitude about her existing job. I suggested maybe we could find ways to help her. Her good friend who was the hostess for the gathering said, “I remember how excited you were when you first got the job. You really felt like you were helping people early on.”
This young lady said she could receive texts at work, “No problem!”
“What if each of us text you something to encourage you to take a positive outlook on your work?” I asked.
I set an alarm that reminds me Monday-Friday mornings to text this young lady. I go to Bible Gateway and search for a verse that talks about work being done as though for the Lord. I text such to her five days a week. She says it has been a blessing to her.
I know doing this has blessed me. Why not harness some of the technology that contributes to our business in ways that bless others and enables us to be obedient–to be true disciples?
Living out of our identity as sons and daughters of the Creator looks like an apprenticeship. We once marched to the beat of a different drummer (a death march). But now, in Christ we hear the Father and seek to do His will.
Discovery Bible Studies (DBSs) call us to hear the Word and put it into practice. We obey out of love, just like Jesus did. We know that our obedience does not earn us standing before our Father. We know that it opens us to being channels of His blessing for others.
One of my teammates has a supporter who works in the water/waste management field. He is an engineer who is a consultant for numerous municipalities. Grease can be incredibly damaging to a city’s sewers. A business that chooses to run grease into the sewer system will block the flow of waste behind them in the system. Trust me, you want sewer flowing all the way to the treatment facility! Blockages are a nightmare. The technology this guy has developed to monitor such potential problems makes him a valued specialist.
Disobedience blocks our spiritual flow. It creates problems that prevent us from experiencing the richness our relationship with God offers. It also restricts the blessings our Father desires to pass through us to others.