Tuesday, February 2, 2016

whole gospel 2

Orchard Hill Church's two primary global partners know all about wholistic development.

 "Jesus said, 'As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' (John 9:5)   

But he promised that 'he who follows me...will have the light of life.' (John 8:12)

And then gives us the same title that he gave himself: 'You are the light of the world..let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14,16) 

Robsan Tura, from Mozambique's Food for the Hungry, has said, "If we don't give glory to Jesus and point to Him as the light, then we, in the void, will ultimately give ourselves or the thing we're doing the glory.  The thing we are doing will become thee thing and will become the treasure, the reward, rather than pointing people to Jesus as the treasure."  Good works connected to a good King and His Kingdom.

Our partners, Kristie and JeanJean Mompremier, with United Christians International in Haiti, base their entire ministry and work on Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."

While they are busy working alongside their community to educate children and teens, develop sustainable food sources, pour cement floors for homes, improve health care, and more, their primary goal is to share the Word of God and the life changing power of Jesus and His Kingdom.  Word and Deed married to both "show and tell" of the character and heart of Jesus.  

Dr. John Perkins, who will be with us in our community in a few weeks, has also lived this Both/And life of wholistic ministry.  He quotes, "Jesus never put evangelism and social action at odds with each other, so neither should we."  

When we tell the Word of God without showing the Word, we often preach a gospel that seems detached from real needs in society and appears powerless to change hearts and lives.

When we fear the response of people and show the Word without telling the Word, we often show a gospel that seems detached from our deepest need and appears powerless to change hearts and lives.

Whole Gospel = Show and Tell
Passionate love for Jesus+Passionate love for people

Sunday, January 31, 2016

whole gospel 1

"..if we follow his example in both proclaiming the Word and acting to meet human needs, Jesus Christ living through us will produce the same spiritual results in the hearts of men and women that were produced when he walked the earth.  That's an evangelism that reaches the whole of a person's life.

When Jesus describes his own ministry, he talks about preaching and healing and releasing prisoners (Luke 4:18-21).  His target is the poor, the blind, the prisoners, and the oppressed.  We don't see here a theology that divides a man up into little compartments- body, mind, soul, emotions, spirit- then puts one above the other and deals with that only.  No, the words have physical and spiritual meaning which show Jesus's strategy to rescue whole people, and to enlist their bodies and spirits in his kingdom.  Jesus makes God's love relevant to my every need, to my whole person.

Among the poor, there is often a basic cause-and-effect relationship between spiritual and physical needs.  It is somehow very cruel to share the words of life with a person without sharing also things that person needs to live (James 2: 14, 17). But also, we can get caught in the shallows of welfare or paternalism if we help meet people's needs without sharing with the understanding that they can have a new quality of life with God that lasts forever.  God wants people to develop into whole human beings."  -John M. Perkins from p.65-66 A Quiet Revolution

Saturday, January 23, 2016

what is it about Dr. John Perkins?

It was such a great honor to be able to walk through the life and ministry of Dr. John Perkins this past week, as I visited Jackson, MS, with my CCDA cohort 6.  As I listened to Dr. Perkins a few days ago, I have been reflecting on what it is that makes him so compelling and such an influential leader.

1.  When Dr. Perkins met Jesus, he believed and has lived the Scriptures that tell us we are one human race and that we become family, real brothers and sisters, when we become adopted sons and daughters of God in Christ.  Perkins has believed and witnessed to the fact that the Gospel has the power to heal and burn through every division.

2.  John Perkins believed Jesus when he said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor...".  And because we are now Christ's physical body on earth, we also will incarnate, just like Jesus did, and preach good news through "show and tell" among the poor.  

3.  John Perkins "doing" flows out of his "being."  Perkins' outliving is clearly from the inliving Christ in him.  He oozes faith and his life story so clearly reflects Jesus's power, hope, love, endurance, courage, character.  You can't get near him without hearing him preach of the King and the Kingdom of God on the move reconciling, redeeming, restoring....and inviting us into the fellowship of this great love.  

4.  Perkins has shown us what beloved community looks like.  It looks like believers coming together across race, socioeconomics, and age to be the Church and to join our gifts together for the greater good...for justice and equality for all people.  He speaks so powerfully about being saved and brought into something larger than ourselves. 

These truths have become visible in the life of John M. Perkins.  He models and embodies these truths.  It was amazing to be around people this week who told their stories of hearing Dr. Perkins share the Gospel around the country and who felt God's call to join with him in Mississippi. With no strategic plan and no finances promised, they dropped what they were doing and went.  H. Spees, who is currently campaigning for mayor in Fresno, put his campaign work on hold this week to come to Jackson in order to help lead our tour on Thursday.  He heard Dr. Perkins at Glendale, CA, Presbyterian Church when he was 19.  He followed Perkins back to MS and was there in the early days when they took over health clinics in the area and knocked down the dividing walls inside that were used to separate whites and blacks.  One of our stops was at Mendenhall Ministries, the former Voice of Calvary Ministries, and we came upon Irv and Joan, a senior couple who had first come to Mississippi in the early days after hearing Dr. Perkins speak.  They were back visiting and serving, and it was a surprise and wonderful reunion for H. Spees, Dr. Perkins, and Irv and Joan.  A great opportunity for cohort 6 to see the love and bonds still so strong between them.  Their lives of commitment to Christ and one another was a "taste and see" moment for us as we watched their joy in seeing one another and sharing stories from the early days of being on mission together through the hardship and insanity of injustice caused by racism.   

Dr. Perkins is a spiritual giant, a mentor and father in the faith to so many people.  His legacy of humble service and sacrifice, the truth he shares about Christ's reconciling love and forgiveness, the prophetic word he has for Christ's Church, and the love he has for his family and friends, draws people both to Jesus and to himself. Dr. Perkins helps us to not only see the vision of God's Kingdom come to earth, but to taste and touch it.  I am one whom God has changed through the life of this man.  Thank you, Dr. Perkins, for your faith, love, and obedience to Jesus.   

Thursday, December 3, 2015

the world at our doorstep

There's a really great work God is up to in our college community!  I spoke with a friend, Kathrine, yesterday as we were waiting in a food line, and I had the pleasure of listening to a little more of her experience with an international community of friends at UNI.  Kathrine and Paul have opened their home to a growing community of college students that includes both internationally-born and nationally-born young adults who are regularly coming together for Friday night meals and who are cultivating transformative friendships across culture and language.  

In a time in which our media pounds us with images and stories that grow a sense of hostility and fear across our country, we need to hear more of these stories of people loving their neighbor and forming communities of friendship.  Stories of people who are caring and sharing together, breaking down walls, and working together to build peace, hope, and beauty in the places they live. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

truth-telling through history

We stole people and stripped them from their homeland, history, culture, families, and dignity. We were wrong.  

We enslaved people as property, counted them as 3/5 a person, and justified the terrorizing of their lives in the name of American progress and economic gain.  We were wrong.

After slavery was abolished, we worked to shut down African-Americans' gains in education and politics with more injustice and by enforcing Jim Crow laws.  We were wrong.  

We lived by the laws of segregation that worked to keep a hierarchy of power and white supremacy in place.  We were wrong.

We continue today in segregation practices.  We don't tend to believe that history impacts today.  We don't tend to believe that we have internalized superiority or that we need to confess, repent, or heal.  We are wrong.  

I took these pictures as I walked through the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, a few weeks ago.  My heart was heavy throughout the experience, and I found myself repeating "Lord, make me brave," over and over as I looked at my brave and persevering Black brothers and sisters through the past 400 years. Black lives matter.  Lord, your Kingdom come.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

CCDA Memphis Review: Mary Nelson

Mary Nelson is one of the founding members of CCDA. She's a Christian Community Developer in Chicago...

We don’t need to retaliate.  Look at oppressors and say, "God bless you.  There is another way."

What is it we want in place of what we don’t want?

Isaiah 65 is the Kingdom vision.

Mary’s mother was arrested at age 78 sitting in a boat that blocked a nuclear submarine.  She put her vision into action. She did it for the children of the world.
When Mary would call her mom with problems in ministry, her mom would say, “What are you going to do about it, Mary?”  

Don’t agonize, organize.  

Some of us need to lead differently by standing with.  Some of us need to learn to accompany.  To step back and let others lead.

"When I get to the pearly gates, I want to hear Jesus say, 'Where are your scars?'"  

If there aren't scars, was there nothing worth fighting for? 

Raise the consciousness of people.  Think more globally. What are the places we know we can make a difference?

We must be prayerful, passionate, and persistent.  

We who believe in justice cannot rest until it comes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

CCDA Memphis Review: Christena Cleveland

Cleveland began with this beautiful prayer: 

Be still and know that I am God.  Be still and know that I am. Be still and know.  Be still. Be.

Our saviorism gets exposed in the face of setback.

Justice and reconciliation are the work of the cross.  When I put myself on the cross instead of Jesus, I start to feel like I’m being crucified.  Feeling hopeless is a marker of privilege.  We say, “Jesus, I’m the one on the cross.  It’s me.”

We must focus on God’s infinite love.  Your hopelessness is proof that your reliance on Jesus is lacking.  

Resentment indicates how we are orienting our lives.

The first guys through the wall always get bloody.  

Here’s how we should respond to setback:

1. Focus on positive attributes of God not negative attributes of oppressor.  Don’t put the oppressor in the center. Centralize Jesus.  Decentralize the enemy and yourself.  

2.  Check your self-righteousness level.  Bitterness speaks, "You have hurt me.  I would never do that to you.  I am better."  The term is called infrahumanization. We dehumanize the powerful, we dehumanize the other when we say, “I get it and you don't”.  You don’t get to decide who is human or not.  “I’m making all things new.  I can get to their heart,” says God.  

3. Take a break.  Do you find yourself thinking, "If I don’t say it, it won’t be said.  If I don’t do it, it won’t get done."  Maybe the holiest thing you can do is take a nap.  Know when to walk away.  Take yourself off the cross to even hear it.  One of the things that will tank us is when we try to supersede God.