Friday, June 27, 2008

A wife who does her husband good...

Proverbs 31:10-12 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

The Lord brought this verse to my mind about a week ago and I’ve been meditating on wanting to be a wife who does my husband good and not evil all the days of my life. I’ve thought about various women of Scripture and how they’ve encouraged their husbands towards good or evil.

Job’s wife: Job 2:9 Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!"

When Job lost his possessions, family, and health he refused to turn on the Lord. His wife pushed him in the opposite direction. I don’t want to be a wife who by words or actions encourages my husband away from fellowship with our Heavenly Father (whether directly or indirectly). I don’t want to have a bitter heart, bring my husband into critical, judgmental, complaining, or gossiping conversations that would bring out impurities in his heart as well. I want the words that come out of my mouth to be used for encouraging him, building him up, and focusing on things that are noble, true, lovely and praiseworthy. (Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen & Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.).

Eve: Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Eve fell prey to the enemy, believed his lies, and enticed her husband to join her in disobeying God’s command. I don’t want to be a wife that is under the control of the deceiver and bringing my husband in that direction with me. I want to encourage him to trust, obey and rest in the Lord and be aware of the lies for what they are.

There are many more women and wives of the Bible whose character can be studied. I love the soft servant heart that Abigail had despite the hardened heart of her husband Nabal. Sarah had a soft servant heart for Abraham, but it could be concluded that she did not encourage him in the right direction when giving Hagar to him to conceive a child rather than waiting and trusting upon the Lord’s promise. Elizabeth, Mary and Ruth all had noble character.

Lord thank you for you word, thank you for revealing the lives of your daughters throughout Scripture. Thank you for the many women that you have put in my life to encourage and mentor me. Thank you for my amazing husband and his heart for you. Lord please teach me to be a wife that does him good all of my days, please show me opportunities to encourage him, serve him, meet his needs and push him towards you. Lord show us opportunities to love others and to push them towards you as well. We love you Jesus.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Perspective Week 8... Pioneers of the World Christian Movement

Perspectives Week 8… Pioneers of the World Christian Movement

We are still on the history section of Perspectives, but this blog entry may be slightly more dynamic than the other history ones so far. The speaker for week 8 was Kathleen Baggett (our only woman speaker) and she was one of my favorites. The way she presented the material and her stories was exactly my learning style and I just connected with what she said. So even though some of it was historical and some theoretical I found myself having taken 6 pages of notes from her lecture (the most I took from any of them).

Kathleen made many insightful statements or points that may have been passed down to her over the years, here are some of my favorite tidbits that she threw out
-It’s one thing to read the word, it’s another to do the word
-Protect your vision, spend time with like minded people (she encouraged us that we can find like minded people in books, and not just in relationships)
-2 things that happen in all mission biographies- someone comes along and tells them they are not the one for the job, suffering/ their faith is tested (so be prepared for these if you plan for or enter the mission field)
-As then so now (don’t think that you are going to be able to sacrifice, be disciplined for God and so forth on the mission field if you’re not doing it at home now, start now where you are)
-Do you live in a war time or a peace time life style? (are you making sacrifices in your daily life with your provisions, or are you living lavishly and abundantly… a war time lifestyle reflects a concern for the unreached, it’s strategic, it releases your resources to give to others, and brings you closer to their way of life, though Jesus was rich he became poor…, can we adopt a missionary lifestyle at home?, be cautious of reverse pride)
-The unreached people don’t have any advocates so not as many resources go to them
-You are not worthy to go unless you are willing to stay, and you are not worthy to stay unless you are willing to go (referring to missions abroad)
-Don’t wait for a big block of time to engage in discipleship, figure out how to sweep people into whatever you are doing
-Children are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today
-Prayer is outreach
-It is by prayer that we couple the powers of heaven with our own helplessness
-Turn the knowledge of a need into prayer

This section will elaborate a little more on the eras mentioned briefly in the blog on Perpectives Week 7 and their leaders.

-William Carrey- wrote Carrey’s Inquiry making a case for the priority of the unreached, it was an apologetic for missions
-Cararey’s motto: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God”
-Carrey ministered for 8 years before he saw his first convert- ultimately 600 converted, 1,000s attending churches in India

-Hudson Taylor- known for wide area and systematic plan of evangelism
-This era was characterized by mission station approach. Hudson went against this approach and wanted to reduce cultural barriers and dress, eat and live like the Chinese.
-Him and his wife Maria were well known as a missionary couple with a dual call
-The Cambridge 7 joined them in China
-Hudson’s motto: “Move man, through God, by prayer alone”

To the Unreached
-Cameron Townsend- dedicated life to learning languages and translating the Bible
-There are currently 11,000 unreached people groups and 600 evangelical churches in the world for each people group
-Donald McGavaran- “salute and farewell” to mission station approach, people movements, target specific people group, disciple them

For the most part in mission history two thirds of the mission force has been female.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Perspectives Week 7... Eras of Mission History

Perspectives Week 7… Eras of Mission History

So I’ve taken a little break from my blog series recapping our Perspectives class. Probably mostly because I’m still on the history section and that portion of the material was not quite as stimulating to me as the rest of the class, so I haven’t been as excited to write about it. I’ll breeze through weeks 7, 8 and 9 on history so we can move on to material that I am more passionate about.

4 Stages of development in missions
-pioneer stage- first contact with a people group
-paternal stage- expatriates train national leadership
-partnership stage- national leaders work as equals with expatriates
-participation stage- expatriates are no longer equal partners, but participate only by invitation

3 Periods of Protestant mission activity to unreached peoples from the last 200 years
-First Era 1792-1910 To the Coastlands- pioneered by William Carey
-Second Era 1865-1980 Inland Areas- pioneered by Hudson Taylor
-Third Era 1934-? Unreached Peoples- set in motion by Cameron Townsend and Donald McGabran

The E-Scale- This is a reference tool created by Ralph Winter to describe and compare evangelistic needs
-E-0 Evangelism of people who are part of Christian families and peoples. Generally a renewal within the church. No cultural barriers are crossed.
-E-1 Evangelism of people outside of the church but within one’s culture. Only one barrier is crossed. This is the most effective type of evangelism because people are more likely to understand what is being communicated in ways that they can pass on to others like themselves.
-E-2 Evangelism of people of different but similar cultures. Two barriers are crossed. The barrier of the church, then a cultural barrier. This cultural distance would be sufficient to require separate church fellowships.
-E-3 Evangelism of people of radically different cultures. This is the most difficult type of evangelism as you are crossing 3 barriers, that of the church, a language barrier (or cultural), and a major lifestyle barrier (like that of nomads or a radically different way of life).

Since E-1 evangelism is largely more effective that is why in missions a general approach would be to raise up and empower national Christian leaders using E-2 or E-3 evangelism, but then allowing them to reach the rest of their people in the E-1 method.

The P-Scale was also created by Ralph Winter. It evaluates the cultural distance that potential converts need to move in order to join the church most relevant to their own culture.
-P-0 Identifies church members who need spiritual renewal. No distance lies between them and following Christ according to customers of their church, it’s more of a revival.
-P-1 Identifies people who live in cultures which have a culturally-relevant local church movement capable of evangelizing them.
-P-2 Identifies people who live in a culture that has no church relevant to their people group, but there is a church in a “near” culture. To follow Christ the potential convert would have to cross both a culture barrier as well as the barrier of the church by adopting the social and cultural values of a local church within a people other than their own.
-P-3 Identifies people who also lives in a culture without a relevant church. There are no nearby cultures similar to their own within which churches have been established. To follow Christ they would have to surmount significant cultural and social boundaries.

The missionary task of reaching the unreached peoples involves eliminating all P-2 and P-3 groups by planting churches in each people group that will be able to reach the rest of their people group through evangelism.

Okay… so maybe I didn’t put much history into that and more theory…


Friday, June 20, 2008

10 Months Married!!!!!

Okay I’m a few days early… we’ll be 10 months married on June 25, but close enough right? So 10 months in, what have I learned, how have I changed, how has my love for my husband changed?

What have I learned?
-I’m not nearly as selfless as I thought, and am actually a pretty stinking selfish person
-I’m not nearly as good at serving others, encouraging others, and sharing as I thought
I really need the Lord and am so glad for His sacrifice, grace, love, mercy and forgiveness!!!!

I love how marriage is a chance to truly mimic God’s character to the one that we are closest with. To show unconditional love, faithfulness, forgiveness, grace, mercy, dying to self, and service to someone else even when they may be not doing the same for us. (admit it… we’re not perfect, we all have our moments where we can be a little hard to love). I’m looking forward to years of learning to submit my flesh to the Spirit to truly reflect that character to my husband (I’ll admit, I miss many opportunities currently). Marriage is definitely a purification process, at least if you allow it to be.

I’ve learned a lot about communication and healthy conflict within the dynamics of a relationship. I’ve learned that my husband needs encouragement from me and praise (which I’m not naturally so good at). I’ve learned that marriage is wonderful! That I love having a best friend and teammate to share everything with!

How have I changed?
-The single Shannon is gone, I have become one with my husband and that has changed of lot of who I was in my former self. God has miraculously knit me and Jeremy together and I have started to like things that he likes and vice versa, we share more of the same points of view and just feel like a unified unit instead of two individuals.
-I have grown closer to the Lord. The intricacy, intimacy, and trials of marriage can either push couples to the feet of their King for dependence and guidance or send them running away as they try to figure out how to make things work on their own and tackle marriage their way. Jeremy and I are absolutely focused on doing marriage God’s way, keeping Him in the center, and honoring Him through our marriage. In experiencing unconditional love from Jeremy and the character of God coming through in our marriage, I have come in know God in a whole new way. Jeremy is not only my best friend, but my spiritual partner. I love our conversations when we discuss spiritual things from the Kingdom of God, to the life and ways of Jesus and so on. Jeremy has a way of challenging me to think for myself and not just believe or recite what others tell me, but to really challenge things. Thank you for your time building into and discipling your wife darling!

How has my love for Jeremy changed?
-The first Bible study that I ever did was Falling in Love with Jesus by Dee Brestin and Kathy Troccoli. In the study it talked about three stages of our love with the Lord, and I think this apply to romantic relationships in marriage as well. For today’s purposes I’m going to talk about these stages as relating to dating/ marriage relationships, maybe one day I’ll do another blog on the actual study and relating these stages to our relationship with the Lord.

-Stage 1 First Love- This is the ooh ahh gone goo goo stage. There’s a girl in my Saturday morning girl’s group who has been out with a guy a couple times and she comes to group Saturday mornings with a perma grin on her face because she is just smitten over this guy. That is first love. You know when you can’t get enough of the person, you want to spend all of your time with them and you don’t really know each other yet so you have so much to talk about in person or over the phone. The conversation is endless as you are exploring who the other person is. (I remember the days where Jeremy and I would talk until 2 am and then I would still get up and go to work at 6 am the next morning… and we did this several nights a week).

-Stage 2 Wilderness Love- This stage may overlap some with stage 1 or 3 at times, but for the most part you are out in the wilderness. You have left the initial “exciting” period but haven’t quite made it into the comfortable, secure place yet. You may be experience conflict, boredom, change and adaptation as your relationship transforms and adjusts.

-Stage 3 Invincible Love- This is the secure stage of unconditional love. Where you can tell your partner ANYTHING, where you can truly be yourself, no matter who that is, in every sense of the good, bad and ugly and know that they still love you. You have security, healthy communication, healthy conflict, and a dynamic relationship that adjusts overtime as you two do. Your relationship has persevered through the trials of the wilderness and endured the storms and now you know that you are both committed and going to be there no matter what gets thrown your way.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I do know that Jeremy and I have crossed the line into invincible love. I’m sure it’s one of those things that if you don’t continue to invest in or work on you could be back in the wilderness before you know it, so I don’t want to get to cocky or carried away. I’m just happy that we’ve made it this far, and that I have a teammate who I love more and more each day and that both of us are absolutely dedicated and invested in making our marriage blossom.

As much as we all love to hear the captivating Jerry McGuire line “You complete me…” and then ooh and ahh afterwards that’s just bad theology. I was single, I was lost, I was saved, and I was complete in the Lord. I will say that Jeremy does make me a better person, that I do serve God better as a married couple than I did as a single, and that Jeremy pushes me towards Christ in ways that I hadn’t been pushed as a single (I had no idea of how much selfishes I was capable of and needed to lay before my King).

Baby I love you, you are an amazing man of God, and I’m so thrilled about spending the rest of our lives together!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Perspectives Week 6... The Expansion of the World Christian Movement

After taking several weeks off from my recap of our Perspectives class I’d like to pick up where we left off. So here we are at Perspectives week 6… The Expansion of the World Christian Movement.

Let me preface this with mentioning that I have always loathed history. It was my most dreaded subject throughout school (well maybe in addition to gym… I wasn’t very athletically inclined when I was younger… who am I kidding… that’s still not my strength). So anyway, this may be a shorter blog because I am a little out of my element here. Because I’m history deficient I used to dread certain books of the Old Testament. Throughout this year God has given me an appreciation for history through His eyes, to understand how He has been at work over time, how He has revealed Himself, promises that He has made and what that reveals about current times and the future. So even though history isn’t my passion or strength I have come to love and enjoy the Old Testament as well as the few weeks of Perspectives that dealt with history. I’d like to quote our study guide on our purposes here “It’s not a matter of memorizing the dates and names of past popes and rulers. It’s a matter of tracing the hand of God as He fulfills His purpose” (p. 47)

Part of our assigned reading was “The Kingdom Strikes Back” by Ralph Winter. In this Winter divides mission history expansion into the periods below, each consisting of 400 years.

I. AD 0-400 Winning the Romans
-Initially Christianity has no national or political identity and appealed to many, then became the official imperial religion and became culturally and politically associated with being Roman in many ways.

II. AD 400-800 Winning the Barbarians
-Barbarians invaded the Roman Empire and adopted Christian faith.

III. AD 800-1200 Winning the Vikings
-The Vikings were evangelized by the faith of their captives. The Gospel spread to Scandinavia and other north European areas.

IV. AD 1200-1600 Winning the Saracens?
-As our study guide comments on the Crusades “the greatest perversion of mission in history” (p. 51).

V. AD 1600-2000 To the Ends of the Earth
-Protestant missions extended across the globe.

“Western civilization, with all of its wealth and corruption, may be the greatest flourishing of all. However, Winter poses the question: if we insist on keeping the blessing instead of sharing it, will God move so that we, like other nations before us, lose some of the material benefits of God’s blessing in order that God’s purpose to bless all the nations will be fulfilled?” –study guide, page 52

(This quote provokes a deeper topic, that would take much more time and effort then this entry on history is going to get into… maybe more to follow on another post. This is one that Jeremy could go on and on about, combine that with the state of our economy and you could get him fired up for hours.)

Winter’s distinguishes between a Western idea of blessings as material or social benefits and the Hebrew context of blessing as relational realities carrying responsibility, obligation and privilege. It’s a familial idea. This means that when God extends His blessing He is establishing family. This is the blessing that God’s people were meant to become and pass on to others.

Winter’s also points out four mission mechanisms throughout history. That when God’s people aren’t willing to go and carry his message He still works to accomplish missions in His ways.

-Voluntary going (Abraham to Canaan, Paul and Barnabas on their journeys, St. Patrick to Ireland, William Carey and Hudson Taylor)
-Involuntary going (Joseph to Egypt, Jonah to Ninevah, Hebrew captives to Babylon, Christians captured by Vikings)
-Voluntary coming (Queen of Sheba to Solomon’s court, Ruth to Moab, Greeks to Jesus, Goths invade Christian Rome, international visitors into Christian West)
-Involuntary coming (Gentiles settled in Israel by Cyrus the Great, slaves brought from Africa to America, refugees from communism)

Okay that’s it for today, but we’re not done with history yet, we’ll have a more in depth study of eras in missions and modern missionaries and their approaches coming up soon when I’m ready to tackle history again.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Broader Vision of Discipleship

Over the past several weeks the Lord has given me a whole new vision of discipleship. I used to think of it as something so concrete, structured, and formulated. More or less as something that you could break down into a 10 or 7 step plan and duplicate over and over again. That discipleship had to involve two people sitting down together, intentionally, having agreed to a discipleship relationship and studying the Bible or doing some other sort of study material. I still think that at times discipleship may involve sitting down and studying God’s Word together (and some or all of those other aspects), but my whole outlook has been expanded. The Lord has shown me that discipleship isn’t just one on one time sitting down and studying the Bible. I’ve realized that a lot of discipleship occurs along the process of just living and sharing every day life together. I’ve realized that not all times has “discipleship” been discussed between the people involved, or are they even aware that it’s going on. I’ve realized that in my life I was discipled at times without even being aware that it was going on. That I’ve discipled others without intending to, or without them being aware of it, but by just sharing life together, growing in our study of God’s Word, praying, admonishing, encouraging, holding others accountable and more. I’ve come to realize that I’ve had more Paul’s and Timothy’s in my life then I was aware of at those times.

In writing this blog I probably need to define some terms. I’m going to borrow Doug Dorman’s definitions from a recent flyer for the Your Next Step Institute. He defines a disciple as a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. He defines discipleship as the process of spiritual mentoring.

So how did this whole change in my outlook occur? First of all I needed to write a testimony of my personal experience of having been discipled for some material that Doug and Joan are making for Your Next Step. In doing so I realized that the most significant times that I had to recall were moments that I had with Joan in which we would talk while cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, or while we chatted while she gave her mother-in-law her breathing treatment, or just hanging out at her house with her, her husband, and her 7 kids and seeing how a wife and mother can gracefully handle a house full of 7 kids, a husband, a live-in mother-in-law and all of the crazy bumps in the road that come up. Joan’s character shone through to me just in seeing her live out her every day life, and that taught me more than I was realizing. At church Doug read another guy’s testimony of how discipleship from Your Next Step impacted him and it all had to do with his life being changed and growing while Doug taught him how to drive stick and play tennis. That stuck out to me. To both me and this other guy, the most significant parts of discipleship were just happening along the way of every day life. They were happening because the Dorman’s were willing to be transparent, open up their home, invite people into their home, family and life and share it all with others. It went along the lines of what one of my favorite Perspectives instructors had said (Kathleen Boggart). She said that you don’t have to create extra time to set aside to disciple/ build into people (these days who has extra time anyway?), she said that you just sweep those people into whatever you are doing. Ladies, are you going to the grocery store? Call another woman, have her go with you and chat along the way while you complete your necessary errands. Gentlemen, going to get an oil change and going to be sitting and waiting (or going to be changing your oil)? Invite another fella to join you. It’s as simple as that. Not to mention add in things like sharing meals, shared interests, sports, activities etc. and you’re all set. Now we all have the time to be discipling others. This week I read an article in Proverbs 31 magazine where a woman had a couple friends who didn’t have the time to get together for Bible study, and they’d all gotten so busy that their exercise routines were suffering. They started getting up early in the morning and read through the Purpose Driven Life. They would walk together each morning and discuss the reading. It was only a 40 day commitment and study that she said changed all of their lives.

The great commission is to all of us, we are all called to be faithful stewards with what has been entrusted to us and to go and make disciples. Pray for God to bring you the faithful people to disciple and He will.

Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Titus 2:2-8 Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

Father, thank you for opening my eyes to this broader vision for what discipleship can be. Thank you that you cannot be boxed into a certain step plan, but that your ways are much more organic than that. Lord, thank you for the faithful disciplers who love you that you have placed in my life. Show me opportunities to build into others, to sweep them into my life. Continue to bring Jeremy and me people that we can open up our home to and just share life with. We love you Lord and give our home and lives to you.